Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Lemon Fairy Cakes and Chocolate & Fresh Mint Tart

It's time to catch up on a couple of things from last weekend. We had friends staying with us, and those friends like to eat (no judgement - so do we!) but as always, preparation time was short. Obviously I made proper meals with chicken and vegetables, all nutritionally balanced - I will post about the Moroccan Baked Chicken with Chickpeas and Brown Rice another time - but what was also required was snacks and sweet things. I decided that fairy cakes make a good snack as they cook so quickly and therefore don't occupy my oven for very long, which is important when it is 7pm on a Friday night and you need to get a whole dinner in there. I also really like these fairy cakes as they are like the ones my grandma used to make - I really remember picking the delicious lemon icing off and eating them in tiny bites.

Lemon Fairy Cakes
(makes about 20)

4oz butter/margarine
6oz caster sugar
6oz self raising flour
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons cold water
Pinch of salt

Juice of one lemon
Approx 6oz icing sugar, sifted

Beat all the cake ingredients together and spoon into fairy cake cases (I put my cases inside fairy cake tins, to help them hold their shape). Cook for about 15 minutes on 160 or your normal baking temperature. They are done when you can stick a fork into the centre cake and it comes out clean, and they should be spongy to the touch and lightly golden.

When they are cool, put the lemon juice in a bowl and rest a sieve on top of it. Push the icing sugar through it, stopping every now and then to stir the mixture, so that you can see when you are at the desired thickness (this is quite thick, nearly opaque, so that it is spoonable but not too liquidy) - it is impossible to be more precise because of course each lemon will yield a different amount of juice. Spoon this icing onto your cakes, leave to set.

For dessert on Saturday, I made a chocolate tart. As we were having meat for lunch (cf rules of keeping Kosher), the dessert needed to be non-dairy. I used a recipe I had from a chocolate tasting class at Maison du Chocolat for the chocolate ganache, but the quantities in that recipe were somewhat imprecise, so it was really improvisation.

Chocolate and Fresh Mint Tart
(in approx 20cm diameter pie dish)

2oz hard tomor/other hard fat
4oz plain flour
1 egg
0.5oz caster sugar
A dash of water

500ml soy cream (I imagine it is the same amount of real cream (single cream) if you prefer the dairy version)
200g dark chocolate - I used Lindt 70% (I should probably take out shares in Lindt, I use it so much)
Handful of fresh mint leaves (easier if you use stalks with leaves, as you have to remove them later)

Begin by mixing all of the pastry ingredients together. If it is too soft, leave it to chill in the fridge first, and then roll it out. I like to put a piece of clingfilm down on the surface, sprinkle with a little flour and roll it on that. Then you can pick the pastry up all in one piece, fit it into the pie dish and peel off the clingfilm with no mess or breaking pastry. Put a piece of baking parchment on the surface of the pastry and use baking beads or something else to weigh it down for cooking. Bake the empty pie case at 160 or your normal baking temperature for 30-40 minutes or until it is golden and hard.

When it is cooled, prepare the filling. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put it in a large bowl. Then put the cream into a saucepan with the fresh mint and bring to the boil. When it is boiling, remove the mint leaves (you may need to sieve this, or just take them out with a spoon), and then pour it over the chocolate in the bowl. Leave to stand for 30 seconds, and then stir - the chocolate will melt into the cream this way. When you have a thick, smooth chocolate cream, simply pour it into the tart case and you're done.

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