But even though it is cold and we would probably all rather stay at home with a cozy blanket, a bowl of hot delicious soup and a good book, we still have to get on with our lives.
The past three weeks have been busy for me but here I am back with a new post and a delicious recipe I made a few weeks ago.
- Finding fabrics and food props for my photography business.
- Doing some DIY work and ending up with paint and varnish on my hands and face.
- Going through thousands of my images to organise my folders and triple save my photography work (computer, external hard-drive, DVDs).
- Food styling and photographing for a new client. Then spending many hours of processing and editing to render some pretty food and product images.
- Meeting with friends and chatting over lovely cups of tea here and there.
- Discovering the amazing life of Anna Del Conte in her autobiography (and dying to try the recipes included).
- Enjoying a few walks in the crisp weather while listening to this song and others by Laura Marling.
- Silently crying while looking at some very stunning and moving photography work by Ange Merendino.
- Reading this to know where practically all the technology I am using really comes from.
- Agreeing with Julia Child on this great quote by her.
- Being invited by E.'s family to spend some Easter weekend quality time and dreaming again and again of the dessert table here (I have been calling it 'Alice in Wonderland' dessert table).
I decided to change the recipe and make it with chocolate dough and an almond and pear puree instead. The little pastries did not last long at all, I blame the chocolate effect! And the dough is just delicious on its own cooked as little round biscuits (this too did not last long).
Ingredients (make approximately 530g)
125g unsalted butter (kept at room temperature 30 minutes before use)
200g sifted plain flour
50g sifted cocoa powder
1 free range egg
125g fine caster sugar
Cream the butter with a fork in a large bowl. Add the sifted flour and cocoa powder and mix with your fingers until you get a crumbly texture. Make a well in the centre. Add the egg and sugar. Blend the ingredients together with your hands (or use a food processor if you prefer) until you get a smooth dough. Roll the dough into a ball, cover it with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least one hour before use.
This dough is lovely as a tart or tartlets base. It can also be used for biscuits: plain, with chocolate chips or chopped nuts mixed to the dough.
Ingredients (make 12 mini pastries)
300g chocolate shortcrust pastry dough (see recipe above)
1 free range egg yolk
plain flour (for dusting)
For the pear and almond puree (makes about 140g)
400g pears (cut into cubes)
1/2 tsp natural almond essence (optional)
20g almond meal
1. Put the pears, water and almond essence in a saucepan over medium to high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, cover and cook for one hour, stirring every now and then. Uncover 15 to 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time to allow the water to evaporate. (You could also just use 120g of ready-made pear puree and skip the pear puree making process.)
2. While the pears are cooking, put a small frying pan over high heat. When the pan is hot (you can check by adding a small drop of water, it should evaporate almost instantly), add in the almond meal. Toss it around for 2 to 3 minutes until it is lightly golden. Put the toasted almond meal in a small bowl and set aside.
3. When the pears are cooked (there should be nearly no water left), take them off the heat and mash them with the back of a fork. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. You should be left with about 125g of fine pear puree. Discard the fibrous parts of the pear from the sieve. Add the toasted almond meal to the pear puree and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Line a tray with baking paper. Dust a large flat surface with flour. Roll out the chocolate dough (2 to 3mm thick). Cut out 12 little round shapes (10cm diameter) and place them on the baking tray. Place 2 small teaspoons of pear and almond puree in the middle of each disc. To fold the discs into half moon shapes, hold delicately each disc with the puree on top in your hand (as if you were holding a small taco), and press the edges with your fingers to seal the pastry and put it back on the tray. Brush your pastries with the egg yolk. Put the baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15 minutes (time may vary depending on your oven - I use an electric oven).
Let your pastries cool down a bit before biting into them as the puree inside can be quite hot. Enjoy it with a lovely cup of tea and a good book!