Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart

All I can say is YUM! And….omnomnomnomnomnom! Omnomnomnom. Omnom. Nom. Nom. This mouthwatering tart had been a work in progress inside my head for a while, and I wanted to make it for my birthday, as I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything with peanut butter. I was pretty happy with how it looked, even though the pastry was a little rustic looking. Okay, it was completely rustic looking. Plus, I forgot to put sugar in the pastry :/ oops! But it was still pretty awesome, even if I say so myself!
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I’m sure you can already tell, but this tart was super, super rich. Especially after the amazing slab of pork belly I had for my birthday dinner, it’s safe to say I was bursting by the end of it all! This tart was heaven for me, and will be for anyone else who loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. It was fairly simple to make, too. It just requires a bit of organising and beginning things the day before. You don’t have to make your own pastry if you don’t want to, either. There are some pretty good frozen pastries around that will still work really well 🙂 The shortcrust pastry recipe I used, I probably wouldn’t recommend. It was ok, but there are heaps of better ones out there. Have a look here to check them out.
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Peanut Butter ganache (adapted from Donna Hay):
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of smooth peanut butter
  • 120g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 2/3 cup (80ml) cream, thickened
  • Pinch of salt

Place sugar peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy (on high for about 5 minutes). Add the cream slowly and beat for another 2 minutes. If not using straight away, cover and refrigerate.

Pastry

Chocolate Ganache:
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s 70% cocoa), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy thickened cream
  • 2 tbs butter
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Place in bowl and let cool.
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Assembly:
Once the pastry has cooled completely, you can start assembling. Spoon the peanut butter ganache over the pastry and spread it out with a spoon so it is nice and even. Pour cooled chocolate ganache over the peanut butter ganache and gently spread out with a teaspoon, being careful not to blend the peanut butter with the chocolate – you want to create two definitive layers. Ideally, it is best to refrigerate the tart overnight, but if you’re using it sooner, try and refrigerate it for the maximum amount of time possible.
Sliced
You don’t have to decorate the tart if you do not want to, it would look great with nothing on top. I had heaps of leftover peanut butter ganache hence why I did all the piping on top. It probably made it that much richer, but it certainly photographed well, I think 🙂
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Salted Caramel Bejewelled Profiteroles

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know how much I absolutely adore salted caramel. I have made choux pastry for eclairs twice before – once when we added 2 tablespoons of salt to the mixture (yes, that’s what the crazy recipe said!), and the other time, I undercooked them and they looked like little sunken balls of pancake. So, logically, I decided I would give them another go for Christmas Day lunch. Ta da 🙂

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Profiteroles

They worked! Thank goodness they did, because the world probably would have ended if they hadn’t. Once again, Taste.com certainly did not let me down, and I will definitely be using this recipe many times over. I already have used it since actually, and the result was just as great. So many people seem to think that choux pastry is a difficult thing to get right, and it can be if you get a little confused or don’t follow the recipe word for word, which can be really easy to do. If you are going to give this recipe a go, make sure to sit down and read it through before you make it – and understand each step. Otherwise, not only can it be really dishearteneing, it’s also a waste of quality ingredients and money 😦 The good news is though, once you do understand the recipe and know what to do from experience, your cooking will be much better for it 🙂 There’s my words of wisdom for the day!

Profiteroles1

Here is the recipe for Choux Pastry. The only part is, it definitely does not make 25-30 profiteroles like it says. It makes 18 at most, so if you want more, simply double the recipe.

Choux pastry

Before and after

Caramel Maison: (from p. 242 of Adriano Zumbo’s book, Zumbo):

•220g pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)
•1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
•120g water (this is just under 1 cup)
•300g caster (white) sugar
•60g liquid glucose (available at most supermarkets)

Place the cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Then, remove from the heat, and remove the vanilla bean if you are using one. In the meantime, place the water, sugar and glucose in a larger saucepan over a low-medium heat and cook until the glucose and sugar are fully dissolved, stirring occasionally. Zumbo’s says to use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the saucepan in order to avoid crystalisation, however you can also just place the saucepan in really hot water with suds just after use and the sugar will melt off really easily. Increase the heat to medium, and cook the sugar mixture until it reaches a dark amber colour. This does take quite a while, and I was getting worried that mine would not work, but persistence is key here, it will eventually darken after 6-7 minutes. Very carefully stir the cream mixture into the sugar mixture slowly – be very careful because it spits and releases lot of heat. I found the best way to do this was with a spoon with a very long handle, as you want to keep your face as far away from the saucepan whilst it is spitting. If you don’t have a spoon with a super long handle, just add the cream really slowly and try to stir as best you can! Keep stirring as much as you can until the caramel settles down, then stir until completely smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

Making the caramel

Caramel Buttercream: (this recipe is on page 42 of Zumbo’s cookbook)
•150g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
•300g caramel maison
•4.5g sea salt flakes

Place the butter in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Warm the caramel maison in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (mine needed 1 min, 20 seconds on high as it was in the fridge overnight), however, just warm it in stages to prevent burning the caramel. With the beater running slowly, add the caramel maison to the butter and continue mixing until thick. Once I had added about half of my caramel, I got a bit worried because it looked like it was curdling, however as I kept adding the caramel, it began to thicken up. So don’t freak out until you have added all of the caramel to the butter. Once you have added all of the caramel, fold in the salt. I did not measure my salt, as I used a shaker. So if you too are using a shaker, just salt to taste.

Assembly:

Place the caramel in piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Gently pierce the bottom of the profiteroles with piping nozzle, so that the nozzle itself is inside the profiterole. Squeeze bag until profiterole feels heavier in your hand, and the caramel is slightly coming out of the profiterole. Gently scrape the profiterole on the edge of a bowl to get rid of the excess caramel. Repeat with other profiteroles. If you are not eating them straight away, refrigerate them until they are ready to serve.

Profits

You can decorate the profiteroles however you wish! You can see that in both cases I dipped mine in melted chocolate, and sprinkled them with gold edible glitter and cachous. For the ones with the white chocolate, I added some caramel popcorn dipped in chocolate. Yum!

NYE profiteroles

Yum!

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Peanut Praline

As I have said so many times before, I looooove anything to do with salt and caramel. And I love Ice Cream.

I got a proper Ice Cream churner for my 21st birthday a while ago and I had only used it once before, and my boyfriend has been begging me for a while now to put it to good use. So with some spare caramel I had in the fridge, here we are. And it was pretty awesome.

For the caramel, I used the Caramel Maison that I made for the Salted Butter Caramel Macarons. It worked really well, and the flavour was great. It took quite a while for the Ice Cream to be ready, but it was certainly worth the wait 🙂 I made a peanut praline to go with the ice cream, just to add a textural element I guess, but I also love anything to do with toffee, and pralines are so much fun to make. As soon as I made the praline though, I decided it would have been so much cooler with the addition of buttered popcorn. Oh well, next time!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream: (we adapted the recipe from the manual that came with the machine)

200g caramel maison, slowly warmed in the microwave until it reaches a pouring consistency (otherwise it will clump)
1 cup full cream milk, well chilled
500ml thickened (heavy) cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar (we used white – not caster, it is not quite as fine as caster, although you probably could use it if it was all you had)

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and sugar, until the sugar is dissolved (about 1-2 minutes on low speed). Stir in the cream and vanilla. If you have a churner (I have the Cuisinart ICE-20A), turn it on, pour mixture into freezer bowl and let mix until thickened. If you don’t have a machine, never fear! Check out this great how-to by the amazing David Lebovitz. Just use the same ingredients, but follow David’s method. TIP – make sure your chilled ingredients are super, super cold. And if you are using a churner like this one, make sure your freezer bowl is completely frozen – no sloshing of water, and take the freezer bowl out after you have assembled the machine and are completely ready to go.

Well, ours didn’t thicken. So, we left in in the churner for about an hour and then decided to put the whole thing in the freezer (which is what they recommend for optimum results). The next day, it was great!

Peanut Praline:

  • 1 handful of peanuts, I used unsalted but you could definitely use salted if you wanted
  • 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar (I only used half a cup here but realised I needed a lot more)

Line a baking tray with baking paper, and place down peanuts. Don’t spread them out too far, but you don’t want them to be too close together, either. Place the sugar in a shallow frying pan, and ensure it is evenly spread. Cook over medium heat. After a few minutes, sugar will start to bubble and darken around the edges of the pan. Once this happens, push the darkened sugar towards the centre of the pan. The rest of the sugar will begin to melt and darken as well.

Once all the sugar has darkened to a light brown colour, carefully pour it evenly over the nuts. If you like the burnt and bitter toffee flavour, you could definitely take the sugar a bit further. I did a horrible job of coating the nuts, but as I said earlier, I needed a lot more sugar. Leave to set, this will happen very quickly. Once praline is completely hard, cover with a layer of baking paper, and use a hammer or a meat tenderiser to break up the praline. If you want large shards, don’t break it up too much. If you want it completely crushed into tiny pieces, almost like a powder, it is best to blitz it in a food processor.

Churned ice cream definitely has a different consistency to store bought ice cream. Even though there was a lot of milk and cream in the recipe, it still had a slightly sorbet-y like texture which I really loved. Whilst it was quite sweet and filling, it wasn’t too heavy and overly creamy like so many ice creams from the shops.

To serve, we topped the ice cream with a little more of the caramel maison and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. And a few pieces of the praline, of course. I really recommend making your own ice cream if you have the time. You can do it without a machine, so don’t let the fact that you don’t have one put you off! You can make your own flavours and add your own colours, and I promise that if you find a great recipe, it will taste just as good, and will be so much cheaper than a tub of Ben and Jerry’s 🙂

Strawberry Milk Fudge Shots

I LOVE fudge! It has always been one of my favourite sweets, and I always bought a piece at the various craft markets I went to when a was younger (and still do today!). This time, I decided to combine the goodness of fudge with some nostalgia – Strawberry Nesquik!

We had these cute little white and pink straws left over from my little sister’s Mary Poppins party last year, so they were the beginning of my idea. I firstly was going to put the fudge in mini cupcake cases with the straws, but when I got to the shops and saw the mini shot cups, I just thought they would look gorgeous with a mini pink straw and pink fudge. Whilst they do look pretty cute in the photos, unfortunately I burnt the fudge and it split 😦 I was SO close to getting it perfect, but left it for that moment too long 😦 Boo. BUT, on the plus, the flavour was pretty awesome (if you are a fan of strawberry Quik), so I thought I would still post it. Amongst the many triumphs in the kitchen one may have, there will always be a failure (for some it’s the other way around :P). So, I guess this is (one of) my failure(s)!

I’m looking forward to trying this recipe again one day, because it really did taste great and it is very strawberry-y. I adapted the recipe from this natural strawberry website, here, where you can find some other great recipes using fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Milk Fudge Shots: (you will need a thermometer to make fudge)

  • 1 1/2 cups castor (white) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Strawberry Nesquik
  • 1 can (185ml) evaporated milk (I used the light version)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 6 straws, cut into thirds (I’m not sure where we got ours from, but I would suggest looking at boutique party shops and websites)
  • 20 shot cups/glasses

Place straws in shot glasses. Place sugar, Nesquik, butter and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan. Boil over a low-medium heat, and whilst at the boil, add the lemon juice and vanilla bean paste. Stirring constantly, heat the mixture to 112c (235f). You can use the soft ball method here – when the mixture is heated, drop a little into a glass of water and if it flattens in your fingers or on a flat surface when you remove it from the water, it’s ready. Quickly pour fudge mixture into a glass or bowl with a spout. Fill each shot cup. Place each shot cup on an oven tray and let set in the fridge. Yum!

By the way, if you do not know what Stawberry Nesquik is, it is basically a strawberry flavoured powder which you put into milk to flavour and colour it. It also comes in Chocolate and Banana, most kids love it. I am sure there is something similar, if not the same in the United States, and probably the UK, too. And probably the rest of the world, too!

Have a great weekend, and Happy Baking! X