Tuesday, 30 October 2012

CINDER TOFFEE TART

I promised I’d master my cinder toffee tart before bonfire night and here it is, early enough to be made in advance, or even for Halloween. Cinder toffee is what we call honeycomb in Yorkshire and it’s a tradition to eat it, alongside bonfire toffee, on bonfire night. I wanted to make this into a proper dessert, and chose to invent a tart with a dark caramel filling which has the taste of bonfire toffee, topped with the crisp and golden spectacle that is cinder toffee.

For the pastry
250g flour
1 tbsp icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 cold egg

For the Filling 
30g butter
40g flour
300g dark brown sugar
250ml milk
2 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract

Cinder Toffee 
75g sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

To make the pastry, blitz the flour, icing sugar and butter together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg with a fridge cold knife (I put it in the freezer for a few minutes) until a dough just about starts to form. You may need 1-2 tbsp of cold water as well, depending on the size of the egg. Turn out onto a piece of cling film, and with the cling film, squash the dough together to form a ball, then flatten a little to make it easier to roll. Pop in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

During this time preheat the oven at fan180°/200c/6. Once rested, remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to warm up a little before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface. Use the pastry to line a medium tart tin, fluting the edges with the back of a wooden spoon and pricking the base with a fork. Trim the excess pastry to fit the tin. Screw up a piece of baking paper and use it to cover the pastry base, covering above the edges of the tart dish. Fill with baking beans or rice (I actually use dried chickpeas because they were the cheapest thing I could find) and bake for 10 minutes before removing the beans and paper and baking for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. The oven can now be turned off.

In the meantime make the filling by melting the butter in a pan before adding the flour and mixing into a paste. Add the sugar, milk, egg yolks and vanilla and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring continuously until thick and glossy. Pour the filling into the baked pastry case, levelling out as much as possible. Leave to cool for around 30 minutes. 

Make the cinder toffee by mixing the golden syrup and sugar in a small pan then bring to boil and cook for around 2-3 minutes. Take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb, don’t be alarmed by the growing foam substance, this will make the air pockets in the cinder toffee. At this point, pour the molten cinder toffee straight onto the tart, teasing it towards the edges to cover the whole filling. This can be done with a knife but try to work fast because it will harden rapidly.

The cinder toffee forms a hard shell on the top of the dark caramel filling which gives a fantastic contrast in texture. To serve, bash the topping to break the surface before attempting to cut or else the filling will just ooze out from the pressure. After the first day, the cinder toffee does soften and becomes an as-equally appealing chewiness which blends well with the dark caramel.
 
 

This is one of my favourite recipes I’ve created, so don’t be put off by how unconventional it sounds, it does work.

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