Pineapple and Clementine Warm Fruit Salad

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This dessert sums up Christmas Eve to me.

When I was a child we often assembled, after the trip to Church on Christmas Day, round at some good friends for drinks. This drinks party dragged on for hours and as a result my parents weren’t particularly in the right frame of mind, by the time we returned home, to start fiddling about with Christmas lunch. Consequently, we would have our turkey and trimmings on Christmas Eve for dinner and then have cold meat, delicious leftovers and salad etc. on Christmas Day followed by traditional Christmas pudding which was truly appreciated as we weren’t too stuffed. Dessert on Christmas Eve, after the turkey, would therefore be this warm fruit salad…..

This is delicious and a fantastic antidote to all the rich food. It tastes great with Christmas pudding if you have room, on its own, with mince pies, leftovers cold for breakfast….. the options go on and on.

You will need: 1 Pineapple, 6/8 Clementines, 3 tbsp light brown sugar, 25g unsalted butter, 1 tsp ground Ginger mixed with the sugar OR 1 tsp grated fresh Ginger OR 2 or 3 pieces of stem Ginger in syrup, finely sliced, a splash of White Rum (optional).

IMG_0572The trickiest part to this is digging out the pineapple chunks. So, with a large sharp knife cut down through the top leaves and the body of the pineapple so that you have two boaty halves. With the knife at a slant, cut a v shape section lengthways out of the middle to remove the woody core. Then cut a grid pattern lengthways and widthways almost through to the skin but not quite and with a spoon dig out the chunks you have created. You should then have a pile of chunks and 2 holders, essentially the skin and leaves of the pineapple. Reserve the holders to load the completed salad back into.

Peel the clementines and try to remove as much pith as possible. Find a large frying pan and over a low to moderate heat, melt the butter until foaming, add the pineapple, clementines, sugar and ginger and gently stir around until it is warmed through (5 minutes or so). Add the rum if using, you can flambé the fruit if you wish and then, having popped the pineapple holders in a suitable serving dish, load in all the fruit and juices.

Christmas in a pineapple cup… I hope you have a good one. x

Sorry about the picture, once we actually make this, I will update!

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Easy Peasy Decoration for a Christmas Cake

Easy Peasy Decoration for a Christmas Cake

So easy it’s unbelievable. All you need are a couple of different sizes of star cutter and a bit of glitter. Cut out stars, let them dry out, stack, holding them together using a little egg white. Sprinkle glitter over the top and finish off the cake either with ribbon or thinly rolled out sugarpaste stars.

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Mini Mincemeat Tarts

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Just before we get into mincemeat tarts, here is the result of the Decorate your own Christmas cake Workshop held last Friday. I had an intermediate group, so that’s students with some prior modelling/decorating experience. A Christmas wreath with sparkle -y roses and a festive robin.

Here are some of the gorgeous cakes produced by the students and the demonstration in progress…. As you can see there is always a unique element to each cake even if we are essentially producing the same thing.

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This design is fairly easy to achieve, sugarpaste can be bought from specialist cake shops in a variety of colours or purchased online and with the addition of a little Tylo powder, a food thickener, modelling paste can be produced. This is much easier to use when cutting out foliage such as holly and ivy as the paste is stiffer. Foliage plunge cutters are widely available.

Robins are very easy to produce: again using modelling paste form an egg shape and fashion a head and a tail. Add a red breast from a disc of red paste, eyes and  a beak and wings. Claws from black or brown complete the design. A robin would also look very good on a chocolate log.

IMG_0518So on with the mincemeat tarts. I am including a recipe for this as they are a Christmas staple, unfortunately widely overlooked as a culinary delight and easily relegated to shop bought status. However with a little bit of forethought, care and attention can provide a delicious dessert all on their own with a little cream or ice-cream and easy peasy to produce at a stressful time.

Firstly acquire some really good mincemeat (making your own is a bridge too far). Farm shops are very good for this or the best quality you can afford in the supermarket. The second trick is to have a go at making your own pastry. I know I know, the perceived wisdom is that making your own pastry is a waste of time but trust me, if you have food processor it takes seconds, and you get a MUCH better result. It also behaves itself a lot better too (much less shrinkage).

So the sweet shortcrust recipe: the one I use is Rachel Allen’s, but as these things are really a bit of a standard thing I’ll include the details here.

You will need for 6 tartlets: 110g cold butter, diced, 200g plain flour, 1 tbsp icing sugar, 1 egg yolk plus 1 egg beaten for glazing.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Grease your mini tart tins (loose bottomed for preference) with butter, pop the diced butter, sugar and flour in the food processor and whizz until you have coarse bread crumbs, add at least half the egg yolk and whizz again until it has more or less come together, then remove from the bowl to your work top and add a little more yolk if necessary and with a light touch bring together to form a smooth ball. Wrap in cling film and fridge for 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll the pastry between two pieces of cling film to a thickness of 3mm or so and using a large pastry cutter (size will depend on tart tin size) cut out at least 4 discs and press into the tart tins. Repeat the rolling out process with the remainder of the pastry to produce the last two discs giving you six in total. Freeze the pastry lined tins for 15 minutes. Then bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove from the oven, brush with a little left over beaten egg yolk or beaten egg if necessary and return to the oven for 2 minutes max. From any remaining pastry cut out stars, brush with beaten egg and bake, on a greased baking sheet, for 5-10 minutes with the pastry cases until lightly browned.

These can then be held in this state for as long as you like, or frozen…..

When you are more or less ready to eat them, dollop 4 or 5 heaped tsps of mincemeat in each tart tin, top with a star and bake at the same temperature as before for 10 minutes or so. We are trying to get the suet in the mincemeat melted but not overcook the mincemeat so that it becomes browned and chewy. If they are frozen defrost them before you start.

Once out of the oven remove from the tins and sprinkle copious amounts of icing sugar over. Delicious.

I’m going to give my favourite Christmas dessert recipe in a few days, a warm fruit salad, perfect after a rich meal….see you then

The Cutest Cakes: Classic Cakes

Lilies and Pearls

The Cutest Cakes: Cupcakes

Rosebud Vanilla Cupcake

The Cutest Cakes: Individual Iced Cakes

Miniature Fruit Cake

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