Goodness me, where has the time gone? One minute I’m writing about lollies and the next…well, it could almost pass for a mince pie! But don’t worry, it’s not…and I have a very good excuse for my bloggage silence. You see, my hands dropped off after a freak fig searching incident and, well, I couldn’t type!
The truth is actually somewhat more mundane (for you) but majorly exciting for Matt and I. I’m delighted to share the news that our first baby is due early next Spring and I’ve been very busy growing him all this time – you know, building all the bits and pieces that make up a little human – it’s actually quite knackering and certainly time-consuming. I’ve just been run off my feet!
Cooking and eating has, of course, continued with gusto (in between bouts of nausea and extreme pickiness), but The Sticky Fig has sadly been a bit neglected and for that I apologise. I really wanted to share this recipe idea, though, for several reasons: Firstly, it’s delicious (so say I); secondly, it’s highly adaptable (I had a million and one variations in my head before deciding on the marmalade and chocolate ganache centre) and thirdly, they keep very well.
Orange really complements hazelnut, so I wanted to use my Mum’s delicious home made seville orange marmalade, and chocolate is another classic partner for both orange and hazelnut (Chocolate Orange…Nutella…hello?!) So it was a no brainer really.
I’d also like to try this with salted caramel & banana (banoffee is one of Matt’s faves), and maybe a cheeky spiced cranberry version for Christmas. Watch this space…
Anyhoo, time is money, people, so let’s crack on.
I was inspired by a recent trip to London with my nearest and dearest. I dragged my poor dad and step mum along in search of the Monmouth Coffee Shop in Covent Garden, having read good things about it, and fortunately it was worth the schlep. They roast their own beans and distribute it daily to each of their coffee shops, so not only was the coffee great (as we were reassured by the long queue out the door) but so were their dainty tasty little treats! I’m always far more tempted by a little bite of something delicious than by an overwhelming wodge of over-iced cake. For a start, I prefer my coffee strong and short so would usually need 2 or 3 to get through a large sugary mound of cake, but also smaller treats are just more tempting. You don’t have to spend ages choosing either; just have one of each!
Anyhoo, it was the little individual bakewell tarts that won my heart. Short buttery pastry with a sweet blob of jam and brown skin flecked almond frangipane; a few perfect mouthfuls of YUM!
We ate quite a lot that day, but it was this little number that stayed with me and swam endless lengths in my daydreaming brain. I adore hazelnuts and was really pleased with how the frangipane worked in this substitution. I roasted my own nuts and removed the skins in a clean towel, but you don’t need to fuss too much and, in fact, I left lots of the skins on. I think it looks and tastes better anyway. Alternatively, you can of course use ready ground hazelnuts.
Sweet shortcrust pastry, aka my new ‘go-to sweet pastry’ (shamelessly swiped from here)
- 250g plain flour
- 70g icing sugar
- 125g unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 egg yolks
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 125g caster sugar
- 100g ground hazelnuts
- 25g ground almonds
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- zest of an orange
- 1 tsp vanilla paste, or extract
- 75g dark chocolate (good quality, natch), chopped
- 75g double cream
- 1-2 tbsp invert sugar, or honey
- Good quality orange marmalade
You will need a deep filled 12 muffin baking tray.
To make the pastry, mix flour and icing sugar in a large bowl then lightly rub in the chilled butter with your fingertips until a crumbly texture forms. Next beat the egg yolks and add to the crumb mixture, stirring until it forms a dough. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s too dry. The dough should just come together.
Roll into a flat disc, then cover it with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To make the hazelnut frangipane, cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Next add an egg and beat in well, followed by a tablespoon of the flour. Stir that well and then do the same with the other egg and remaining flour. Do not over beat.
Finally, fold in the ground nuts, orange zest and vanilla. The frangipane mixture can be used immediately, or covered and kept in the fridge until needed. It’s very amenable like that.
To make the ganache, simply heat the cream in a small saucepan along with the invert sugar, or honey. Once it starts to bubble give it a swirl then pour over the chopped chocolate. Leave the chocolate to melt for a minute then stir through to make a smooth ganache. Once again, when this is cooled it can be used straight away, or left in the ‘fridge until needed.
If the pastry has been in the ‘fridge overnight, leave it to stand at room temperature for half an hour, or so, until it’s softened up a bit to make it easier to roll. Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it’s the thickness of a pound coin, then cut out 12 large circles. Roll these circles a little more to ensure they’re large enough to fill the muffin indentations. I cut thin ‘v’ shapes from the outside edge of the circle so that the pastry can overlap in the muffin tin – you have to do a bit of a patch up job, but don’t despair; what looks like a raggedy mess at the start becomes charming rustic-y pastry case later.
Prick the the bottoms with a fork then chill in the ‘fridge for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 160 deg/140 fan and remove the frangipane from the ‘fridge (if it’s in there).
Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans (or actual beans, rice, etc.) then bake for ten minutes. Remove the beans and baking paper, then return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes until lightly golden in colour.
Leave the pastry cases to cool in the tin before filling with…the filling! A dollop of marmalade goes on the bottom, followed by a dollop of chilled ganache, then fill them to the top with the hazelnut frangipane.
Bake in the same 160 deg/140 fan oven for approximately 30 minutes, but check after 25 minutes. They should look like this…
Once they’ve cooled, you can keep them in an airtight container for several days…but why would you? Dust with icing sugar and cocoa if you fancy. Enjoy!
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