We've been having a few late nights lately due to the live television coverage of le Tour de France. We are a little bit addicted to it. Every year in July, we walk around like Zombies from The Walking Dead for three weeks as we don't get to sleep before 2am each night because of the time difference and the late broadcast. Hence, by 2pm I'm in need of a serious sugar hit to help me make it to the next stage... enter Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart. It was the last stage of the race last night (which makes me sad that it's over, but happy because, sleep), so I sat down this afternoon with a slice of this and a strong coffee and watched the replay of the highlights. Obsessed much.
Break the biscuits up a little and place them in a food processor. Blitz to a fine meal. Add the melted butter and pulse until it resembles wet sand.
Tip the mixture out into a 22cm shallow loose-bottomed tart pan and press firmly onto the base and sides. Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Make the Filling:
Put the cream and butter into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat. Set aside.
Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Boil without stirring until the temperature reaches 180C using a candy thermometer. The mixture will become a deep golden colour. Remove from the heat and immediately start add the butter mixture in a thin steady stream. Put the pan back on the heat and cook, stirring, for a further 4 - 5 minutes or until it starts to thicken slightly. Pour it into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
Make the Topping:
Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water. Don't let the pan touch the water. Heat until the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
Assemble the Tart:
Pour the cooled caramel into the crust and place it in the refrigerator to set the caramel. Spread the melted chocolate over. I like to leave the edges, exposing the caramel underneath. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt flakes. Refrigerate until firm and slice once the chocolate has set.
Put all the starter ingredients into a bowl, mix to a shaggy consistency and set aside for 30 minutes.
Make the Butter Mash:
Put the butter and flour into a wide, shallow bowl and mash it together with a fork. It will be hard at first, but will get softer as you mash. Once it's a smooth consistency, set aside for 30 minutes.
Make the Dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the starter, flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Mix to combine, then add the lukewarm milk and mix on low for 10 minutes. You should end up with a smooth, slightly sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a 12cm x 60cm rectangle, keeping the edges as straight as you can. Evenly dollop teaspoons of the butter mash all over the dough, then use a palette knife to spread it evenly. Take the short edge and fold the dough over itself from one end to the other five times. Pinch the open ends together to seal the butter mash in, turn the dough 90 degrees and use a skewer to poke a few holes in it. Roll the dough again, this time to a 12cm x 50cm rectangle and roll from end to end four times. Every time you fold, you are creating those lovely flaky layers. Put the neat rectangle of dough onto a floured baking tray, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Lightly spray a 6 hole muffin pan with cooking oil spray and set aside.
Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a 20cm x 40cm rectangle. Spread with the Speculaas spread, then roll it using a long edge, into a log shape. Trim of the messy edges and cut the log into 6 even potions and pop them, cut side up into the prepared muffin pan. Set aside in a warm spot for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until risen and puffy.
You know what happens when you harvest all your pumpkins? You're forced to make chunky pumpkin soup... And then because you made chunky pumpkin soup, you're forced to make garlic crostini to go with. It's the law.
Chunky Roasted Pumpkin and Corn Soup with Garlic Crostini
For the Soup:
700g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 3cm thick wedges
1 ear corn
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 cup tomato passata
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 cups vegetable stock
Pinch chilli flakes
Sea salt flakes
For the Crostini:
4 slices of day old bread (I used sourdough)
1 clove garlic, cut in hlaf
Extra virgin olive oil
Pesto (I make my own and keep it vegan)
Make the Soup:
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the pumpkin pieces and garlic cloves on the prepared tray, drizzle over some olive oil, toss to coat and roast for 40 - 45 minutes, until tender and starting to caramelise at the edges. Remove from the oven and squeeze the garlic flesh from the skins (discard the skins) and mash the pumpkin and garlic up a little with a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, grill the corn on a very hot grill pan until slightly charred. Remove the kernels from the the cob and place them in a large Dutch oven along with the roasted pumpkin and garlic, carrot, passata, quinoa, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and stock. Bring to the boil and cook until the carrots are tender. Season to taste.
Make the Crostini:
Grill the bread on a hot grill pan on both sides until you get good grill marks. Immediately rub the toasted bread with the cut side of the garlic cloves and then drizzle with a generous amount of olive oil.
Ladle the soup into deep bowls, top with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkling of sprouts and a drizzle of lemon juice. Cut the bread into triangles to serve with.
For the Cakes:
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the Espresso Extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water
For the Espresso Syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup caster sugar
For the Mascarpone Filling and Frosting:
1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cold cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped, plus extra for grating
Make the Cakes:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter two 23cm round cake pans, coat with flour and line the bottoms with baking paper. Set aside.
On a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for a further 5 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and reduce the speed to low. Add a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Add another third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk. Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 22 - 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the Espresso Extract:
Put the espresso powder into a small bowl, add the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Make the Espresso Syrup:
Put the water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of the espresso extract. Set aside.
Make the Mascarpone Filling and Frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until blended and smooth.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until firm peaks. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to fold a spoonful of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Add the remaining whipped cream and gently fold them together.
Assemble the Cake:
Protect the cake stand from drips by lining it with strips of baking paper. Level the cakes if the have risen to a dome and place one cake on the cake stand, bottom-side up. Spoon a third of the espresso syrup over the cake. Spread about 1 cup of the mascarpone cream evenly over it and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate. Put the second cake on the counter, spoon a third of the espresso syrup over it and turn it over and place it, syrup side down on the filling. Spoon the remaining syrup over the top of the cake.
Complete the Frosting:
Whisk 1 tablespoon of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone cream. Taste it to see if you want to add more extract for a stronger coffee flavour. Put the frosting in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up and then spread it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or overnight) before serving.
Before serving, grate some dark chocolate over the surface of the cake using a fine microplane. I used a stencil for decoration.
1 teaspoon saffron threads soaked in 100ml boiling water for about 10 minutes
For the Topping:
Flesh of 3 - 4 passionfruit
Make the Curd:
Put the zest of both fruits and their juices into a heatproof bowl. Add the eggs, butter and sugar and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, without letting the bowl touch the water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until smooth and thickened. Leave to cool, then chill for a few hours in the refrigerator to set. I usually do this the day before I want to use/eat it.
Make the Cake:
Preheat the icing to 175C. Very lightly butter a 20cm (measured from the base) angel food cake pan. Set aside.
In the clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until soft peaks. Mix the baking powder, salt and vinegar together in a small bowl and add it to the whipped egg whites while the mixer is still going. Add 300g of the caster sugar and all of the vanilla sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, while continuously whisking. Once all the sugar has been incorporated. stop the mixture and sift the flour and remaining 125g of caster sugar over the mixture and fold it in with a spatula.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, until golden on top. Don't open the oven door during baking.
Leave the cake in the pan and set on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before turning the cake over on the rack. Leave the up-turned cake until it releases from the sides itself Leave to cool completely.
Make the Frosting:
Drain the water from the saffron threads, discard the saffron. Put the saffron water and sugar into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Boil until the temperature reaches 121C on a candy thermometer.
In the meantime, in the clean and dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks. Add the lemon juice. Continue whisking as you gradually add the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream. Keep whisking until the mixture has cooled, about 10 minutes.
Assemble the Cake:
Cut the cake horizontally into thirds. Put the bottom layer of cake on a cake stand lined with pieces of baking paper (so that you can catch any drips and keep the stand clean). Spoon half of the lemon and lime curd on and spread around evenly. Top with the middle layer of cake and spread it with the remaining curd. Place the final layer of cake on top and cover the entire cake (top, sides and down the center hole) with a generous layer of frosting. Scoop the flesh out of the passionfruit and use it to adorn and perfume the top of the cake. Remove the paper from under the edges of the cake, stand back, admire your work of art, then dig in.