Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Lunch

The desserts for Christmas lunch were a bit of a mixed bag! The Mocha Torte was a great success - due in part to a topping of popping candy, which provided much merriment. My mincepies were fine, although one or two were a bit heavy on pastry, due to my inability to roll pastry evenly. The disaster was the the Clementine and Saffron Cake - nothing wrong with the flavour but the texture was dense and heavy. I've no idea what went wrong, as I've made this sort of cake  - with whole boiled fruit - very successfully in the past!

I've no idea where the recipe for the Mocha Torte came from - it was passed to me by a friend, and I changed it slightly, so I think it's OK to pass it on unattributed. It consists of a light gelatine based mousse (no cream) on a biscuit base, with a topping of shards of chocolate covered popping candy. Sorry about the rough photo - I forgot to take one until it had been served!

Mocha Torte

200g plain chocolate digestive biscuits
100g melted butter

150g plain chocolate - at least 70% 
4 large eggs
4 fl oz (just over 100mls) strong black coffee, made with 2 teaspoons instant coffee, still hot
1 fl oz (about 2 tablespoons) Tia Maria
100g caster sugar
6 sheets of leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water to soften
4 fl oz (just over 100mls)just boiled water to dissolve gelatine after soaking

Chocolate Covered Popping Candy
100g plain chocolate - see link
25ml flavourless oil
50g popping candy

Crush biscuits and add the melted butter, mix well and press firmly into a 23cm (9") round deep springform tin. Refrigerate to cool.

Melt chocolate carefully over a bowl of hot water.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in processor (or with a hand mixer) until pale and smooth.

Pour in hot coffee and Tia Maria and re process, while whizzing slowly pour in dissolved gelatine.

Blend in the melted chocolate and allow mixture to cool for 20- 30 mins.

Whisk egg whites until quite stiff then fold into the chocolate mixture.

Pour on top of biscuit base and leave to cool and set.

Decorate with chocolate covered popping candy made following this method from Heston Blumenthal. I made it without the spices, which I didn't think would compliment the coffee flavour.

I'll skip over the Clementine, Saffron and Polenta Cake, except to say that I was following this recipe from Waitrose. I think my mistake was to try to make it nut free. I used SR flour instead of ground almonds. I did look at various recipes online, and found several of this sort which used flour, so I didn't expect it to turn out so badly. It was just about edible - most people tried a sliver out of politeness and my mother took home half of what was leftover to eat warm with custard!

The mincepies were made with my standard  sweet shortcrust pastry recipe, with the addition of the finely grated zest of an orange. Here's the pastry recipe, but I don't think there's any need to tell you how to make mincepies. This amount of pastry, plus one standard jar of mincemeat makes 24 mincepies, for me, but obviously the size of your mincepie moulds and how thinly you roll the pastry will make a difference.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry: 500g SR flour; 250g butter, or a mixture of butter and lard; 75g icing sugar; zest of one medium orange; 1 large egg; cold water to mix. Rub the fat into the flour, sift in the icing sugar and mix in the orange zest. Add the egg and enough cold water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead briefly, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes before use. The use of SR flour and some lard makes the pastry soft and crumbly.


Chele said...

Who doesn't love popping candy! Where on earth did you manage to find any? I think all your desserts look fab, I would have been very happy to sample them ;0)

Suelle said...

Chele - Waitrose had a small stock of popping candy and gold leaf, as it was used in one of their exclusive Heston Blumenthal dessert recipes. I thought the gold would be a bit OTT!

C said...

The chocolate dessert looks fabulous and your mince pies look delicious too. It's a shame the cake didn't work very well - I would have been really interested in recreating that one!!!

Choclette said...

Looks like a lovely array of desserts there Suelle and judging how much was left of the torte, that must have been very popular.

Magic Cochin said...

I've hopped over here from Dom's place in Lincolnshire, cos you're in my neck of the woods.

Gosh! what a lot of yummy cakes and stuff... bang goes my New Year's abstinence from gooiness! This is way too tempting :-))

A Fen Tiger now living just a short skip over the border into the edge of Suffolk.

Suelle said...

Hi Celia, good of you to visit. I used to live in Newmarket a long time ago, which is as close as you can get to 'just over the border'.

I'll check out your blog later.

Celia said...

Suelle, lovely recipe for the mousse cake, thank you! It's great to have one without cream in it!

All the best to you and yours for a wonderful 2011!

Brownieville Girl said...

This torte is going to the top of my "to try" list - sounds fantastic!

Happy New Year.