Sunday, 12 June 2011
We all know that the food world is overflowing with professional talent - for amateurs such as myself, there is plenty of inspiration to be found out there, and I take great pleasure in immersing myself in cooking TV shows, books and magazines. It's something I never tire of.. So, in a way, I think you'll agree with me when I say that it can be quite easy to spend much your actual time in the kitchen following others' recipes rather than trusting your own instincts. And perhaps sometimes, recipes can become a little bit of a crutch when you get into the habit of using them all the time. I have been thinking about this a lot of late, and have realised that this over-reliance on recipes is in part a symptom and a cause of my lack of confidence in the kitchen. Sure, I've baked and baked for many years, but it is quite rare that I set about creating something entirely of my own invention.
And so it was very timely that I heard about the Lurpak Challenge calling for submissions of original recipes incorporating the iconic butter (I just know you've heard me rave about this product before, so I'll spare you the repetition!). With the added incentive of great prizes at stake, I decided to take a leap of faith in my baking. I lifted my hand from the safety railing, put away all the recipes, and step by step, created something I can call my own. It was a little scary at first, and there were mistakes.. oh yes, and mistakes involving caramel are rather sticky and a pain to clean up... but after three attempts I think I've managed to create something worthy of entry into the competition (I hope!)
Here is my recipe for salted caramel, peanut and chocolate tarts. This recipe combines three things that I absolutely can't live without eating now and then - sweet shortcrust pastry, salted caramel and chocolate. The salted peanuts add a great crunch too. This recipe makes ten 8cm tarts, however, you can easily adapt the method to make one larger 22-24cm tart.
250g plain flour
50g icing sugar
150g unsalted butter, cold and chopped into chunks
Peanut & Salted Caramel filling
1 cup white sugar
70g Lurpak unsalted butter
1/3 cup thickened cream
1/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup thickened cream
110g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped
90g milk chocolate, finely chopped
1. Start with the pastry by adding the plain flour, icing sugar, pinch of salt and 150 grams of butter (cold and roughly chopped into chunks) and pulse until breadcrumbs start to form. Add around 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough starts to come together. Tip the mixture out onto a clean work surface and gently bring together with your hands. Wrap with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready for use.
2. To make the salted caramel, place the white sugar and a few tablespoons of water in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, which will then start to form white lumps. At this point, reduce to low heat and stir regularly as the sugar begins to caramelise and darken. As soon as it reaches a golden-amber colour, remove from the heat immediately and stir in the remaining 70g of butter, 1/3 cup of thickened cream and the salt flakes. Take care doing so as it will spit and splutter. Once smooth, transfer to a bowl/jug to cool.
3. Next, preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius and start on your pastry cases by lightly greasing ten 8cm loose-based tart tins. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to around 3mm. Cut out 10cm rounds and fold the pastry into the cases, gently pressing the pastry into the grooves. Prick the base of each with a fork and transfer to the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Line each tin with baking paper or foil then fill with pastry weights or dried beans/rice and blind- bake for around 10-15 minutes. Remove the paper/foil and weights and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tins.
4. Divide the chopped peanuts between the tart cases and pour over the salted caramel. Place in fridge to set.
5. Meanwhile, to make the ganache heat 1/2 cup of cream in a small saucepan until it is about to boil. Remove from the heat and stir through the chocolate. Allow to cool slightly before diving among the peanut and caramel filled tart cases, then return to the fridge to set.
So there you have it - my original recipe for salted caramel, peanut and chocolate tarts. If you like what you see please, pretty please, vote for me in the Lurpak Challenge! To vote, go to: http://www.lurpak.com.au/lurpakchallenge/recipe/salted-caramel-peanut-and-chocolate-tarts and register your vote.
Till next time, dear readers