Chocolate Pecan Pie

I wanted to do a pecan pie as well as a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but it proved difficult to get corn syrup round here, and the texture of the filling just isn't right without it. I found several recipes on the internet for a chocolate filling with pecans on the top, and eventually settled on this one. I modified it a bit, mainly because I didn't want to get a whole bottle of bourbon, and we ran into the problem of the UK commercial raw pastry shells being a bit shallow again.

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1 cup sugar (I used muscovado)
3 tbsp. cornflour
3 eggs
1/2 cup condensed milk
2 tbsp. rum
6 oz. plain chocolate, melted
4 tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 cup pecans

Mix together sugar and cornflour in large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, mix. Add condensed milk, rum, chocolate, and butter. Mix well.

Pour into pie shell (it was just a bit too much filling, but not enough to make a second pie). Add the pecans in a circular design on top of pie. Bake for 45 minutes at Gas Mark 5.

It puffed up incredibly in the oven, and shrank considerably on cooling. I was expecting something a bit more custardy, it came out like a very rich and gooey brownie in a pastry shell, with pecans on the top. The pecans scorched a bit, you could easily have put chopped pecans in the bottom or just stirred them through the mix.

I suspect that if you let the mixture set instead of cooking it, you would have a very tolerable chocolate mousse-type thing.

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Banana Tarte Tatin

Today I've seen three references to Banana and Cardamom Tarte Tatin, one with a caramel topping flavoured with star anise.

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Bog-standard Trifle

I've got a wonderful trifle dish, which is actually the glass bowl bit out of a dead washing machine. I'm making a standard trifle in it today, which is:

 

  • 1 bought Madeira cake
  • Raspberry jam / conserve
  • Madeira or cream sherry
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 pints double cream
  • Fresh raspberries

Slice the madeira cake and sandwich the slices back together with raspberry jam, in whatever shape is convenient for your bowl. Sprinkle with plenty of booze to soak well in. Today we're using ordinary raspberry jam, but soaking in Blandy's Avada 5 year old sweet Madeira.

Make a custard – in a bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour. Heat one of the pints of cream to nearly boiling, pour over the egg mixture in a stream, whisking as you go. Put back in the pan, and heat gently until well thick. Pour it over the sponges, banging it up and down a couple of times to make sure it settles well around the sponges. Leave to cool and set.

When it's cool, whip the second pint of cream, with booze and flavourings if you like, and spread over the top. If you're using a bowl shaped like mine, that's wider at the top than the bottom, you may need more cream to get a decent layer.

Decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

This is actually better the next day, but if you're leaving it for a while you might want to wait on the raspberries.

Variants – blueberries (jam and fresh for the top), cranberries ditto – but sweetened dried for the top, fresh is too tart, chopped nuts on top, some people put fruit in amongst the sponge, but I'm a bit of a purist about that, you can put vanilla in the custard if you must.

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Maple Bacon Toffee Apple Cheesecake

This is a work in progress … I found recipes for a savoury stilton and bacon cheesecake, and also for something like an upside-down cake with toffee apples in the base, cheesecake on top, then up-end it to serve, no biscuit or cake base. I'm doing a mix and match with a cheesecake recipe I know works, and we'll see what happens.

What I'm doing is:

  • 4 rashers Waitrose maple cured bacon
  • 3 tart apples, Granny Smiths, peeled and cored
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tblsps brown sugar
  • 2 tblsps maple syrup
  • 250 gms digestives
  • 4 oz butter, melted
  • 12 oz cream cheese – the real stuff if you can get it, otherwise use Philly
  • 6 oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tblsp calvados

Finely snip the bacon and dry fry the bits until really really crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool.

In a big heavy pan, chop the apples in about half inch cubes and cook in the butter, sugar and syrup until dark golden and slightly soft, and the sauce has pretty much evaporated. Cool a bit, but not too long, I suspect it would set solid.

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4.

Make a digestive biscuit base for a 9 – 10" springform pan, by crushing the digestive biscuits and mixing with the melted butter. Press firmly into the pan.

Top with the toffee apple mixture, and sprinkle on the bacon.

Process the cream cheese, add caster sugar, eggs, and calvados and process till smooth. It's very wet.

Pour over the apples, and bake for about half an hour until set and not wobbling too much in the middle. It'll set more as it cools.

Out of the oven and looking good. I'm still debating a topping …

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Christmas Day menu

Breakfast:

Beetroot-cured salmon, blinis, hardboiled quail eggs, creme fraiche, Ovruga fake caviar, chives and dill. Champagne or clementine juice, coffee.

Dinner:

Glass of Taylor's Chip Dry White Port, chilled.

Roast goose, goosefat roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips, sausages in bacon, sage and onion stuffing balls, plain boiled sprouts, petits pois, ginger cream sauce, port and redcurrant gravy. Choice of spiced pickled pears, sweet spiced prunes, cherry compote, cranberry and horseradish relish. Chateau Neuf du Pape.

Christmas pudding with cream or white sauce or rum butter. Orange Muscat Flora.

Coffee and Bendicks mints.

Late supper:

Winter apple, Comte cheese, clementine.

Phew.

 

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23rd Dec

The eve of Christmas Eve – lunch, salad with clementine slices, shallots, lime-dressed beetroot, and prawns. With sesame crispbreads.

Dinner, braising steak cooked a long slow time in the oven with red wine, thyme, allspice, garlic, shallots, leek, celery, carrot and parsnip. With stir-fried broccoli in garlic sauce and granary bread fresh out of the machine.

Pudding – bought-in coconut and lime tart, with fresh blueberries and cream.

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The Most Pretentious Menu I’ve Seen Yet

Menu from a conference dinner (the venue has a maritime / naval warfare historical connection, which may explain some of the more florid bits)
 
Warm Mousseline of Sussex Chicken stuffed with Cave Matured Roquefort and Fresh Harvested Walnuts with a Sauce of Sorrel Hollandaise and Julienne of Russet Apples
 
A Ravioli in the Colours of the Kingdom of Naples filled with Scottish Lobster, Salmon and Ginger from the Windward Islands and topped with Deep Fried Leeks
 
Cannon of English Lamb stuffed with Wild Woodland Mushrooms and Truffles, imprisoned in a pastry cage with a Sauce of Wild Rowan Berries and a Plume of French Bar-le-Duc
Black Potatoes from the Ardennes
Bundles of Vegetables gathered fresh from the garden
 
A Miniature Gateau flavoured with Liquorice from the Spanish Maine concealing a heart of liquid fire glazed with Quince Jelly and served on Lapsang Creme Anglaise with Baby Pear finished with an arabesque of purest gold.
 
Glazed Normandy Brie with Wild Mulberries and Bath Oliver Biscuits
 
Coffee and Homemade Truffles
 
I had to look up Bar-Le-Duc, it's a French preserve named after a town in Lorraine, traditionally made with whole redcurrants which have had the seeds extracted by little old ladies using a goose quill. I would normally spell Spanish Main without the "e", but otherwise there were no spelling mistakes – too many capitals but consistently used. On the whole though – YUCK – over complicated, and generally a right mess. Apparently the dessert was a sponge with something like a malteser in the middle, which in turn had a brandy liqueur centre. It wasn't popular. And the Brie was glazed with a sugar topping, so two desserts.
 
One idea worth playing with might be the Lapsang custard with a poached pear, that could be an interesting combo. 

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Sample Christmas Menu

Christmas menu from local catering college:
 
Cream of potato and watercress soup
Smoked salmon terrine served with crayfish tails and tartare dressing
 
Paupiette of plaice and spinach duglere (which research assures me is a white fish sauce incorporating crushed tomatoes)
Cheese fritters served on peperonata
 
Roast turkey
Game pie
Char-grilled sirloin steak bearnaise
Parsnip, chestnut and cranberry strudel served with forest mushroom and red wine reduction
 
Roast and creamed potatoes
Brussels sprouts
Puree of carrots and swede
 
Christmas pudding with rum sauce
Pecan truffle stuffed pear served with vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup sauce
Old English sherry trifle with syllabub sauce

 
The strudel could run the risk of being sweet, and is deffo v carby. The pecan pear sounds good, though …

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Baileys Marzipan Charlotte

More sickly ghastliness from Baileys. Do like marzipan, though …

4 servings

  • 200 ml Baileys
  • 24 savoy sponge fingers
  • 100 ml milk
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • 100 gms natural marzipan, cut in very small cubes
  • 3 leaves / 10 gms gelatine, soaked in plenty of cold water
  • 4 glass tumblers or lightly oiled tea cups

Cut the sponge fingers to fit the glasses and arrange around the edges, cut side uppermost.

Milk milk, cream and Baileys, put HALF in a saucepan and heat until simmering.

Add marzipan and gelatine, remove from heat and mix well. The marzipan should melt in a couple of minutes. Whisk to incorporate.

Put in a bowl and add the remaining half of the liquid.

Pour into the glasses. Keep pushing down the sponges until they soak up the mixture and stay in place.

Chill, overnight if poss.

Turn out by dipping each glass in warm water for a few seconds until loosened.

 

Savoy – looks like they mean the slightly crispy ladyfinger biscuits, rather than trifle sponges. You could easily increase this, but I don't think making one big one would work, you'd lose the ratio of sponge to mixture and it would get well icky. It would look quite odd on the plate just as it was turned out, what could you trim it with? You wouldn't really want more cream. Maybe a dried fruit or cranberry compote? Something with a bit of sharp in it.

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Mango & Lime Yoghourt Cake

Again from delicious, June 2005. Keeps in a cake tin for 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. 10 slices at 314 cals per slice, but this is a treat so who cares. You can ring the changes with any kind of ready-to-eat dried sweet fruit like pineapple or apricots, and you could use lemon instead of lime.

 

  • 125 ml sunflower oil plus extra for greasing
  • 125 gms ready-to-eat dried mango
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 125 gms natural yoghourt (doesn't specify fat content)
  • 175 gms golden caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 175 gms plain flour, sifted
  • 1.5 tsps baking powder
  • 100 gms icing sugar
  • 25 gms toasted coconut (flaked or dessicated)

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4, grease and line a 900 gm loaf tin.

Snip the mango into pieces.

Mix half the lime zest, the yoghourt, sugar, oil, eggs, flour, baking powder and not quite all the mango – beat with a wooden spoon until just smooth.

Pour into the tin and bake 50 minutes or until the skewer is clean.

Turn out to cool on a rack.

Mix icing sugar with enough lime juice to make a thick but slightly runny icing. Drizzle over cake and top with the coconut, remaining lime zest and mango.

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