Thursday, 27 June 2013

WHITE CHOCOLATE AND PISTACHIO ICE CREAM

One of my twitter friends, Becky from www.lipsmackintreats.wordpress.com, wondered if I was going to do a Wimbledon inspired recipe, being the tennis freak I am. It may be tenuous, but here it is- ice cream that is white and green like the balls/grass. The main challenge was creating something which would be as good as the tennis this year, because it’s flipping good, but so is this ice cream. You don’t need a machine to make it, don’t even have to churn throughout freezing, and it’s a beautiful tasting thing, specked with the subtle nuttiness of the pistachios.

100g white chocolate
600ml double cream
100g pistachios, removed from shell
200g condensed milk
Splash of vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water then stir in 100ml of the double cream, mixing until unified in colour and liquid. Leave to cool.
Put the pistachios in a blender along with 5tbsps of the cream and blitz until you have a bitty green paste.
Beat together the rest of the cream, condensed milk and vanilla until it thickens and begins to get to medium peak stage. Mix in the melted chocolate and cream then add the pistachios, whipping them around the mixture to ensure they’re fully dispersed. Pour into a container and freeze for up to 6 hours (soft scoop) or overnight.
 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

HONEYDEW CHEESECAKE

I’m probably in a minority here but cheesecake is probably my least favourite dessert. I find it claggy, way too rich and don’t even get me started on the soggy digestive biscuit base. Occasionally though I can enjoy a super fresh or citrusy one, like mango or passion fruit. I wanted to make my own along these lines and turned the freshest of all fruits, and my favourite; melon. Melon seems completely neglected in baking, and I understand it’s watery and the flavour is often too subtle, but here I intensify the flavour of the flesh and use it so perk up and cut through the rich cream cheese. For the base I’ve used ginger biscuits, not just because I can’t stomach digestive, but the contrast between the sweet, cool melon and the heat of the base is really interesting. This cheesecake makes me like cheesecake.
250g ginger nut biscuits
100g butter
1 small ripe honeydew melon
50g sugar
600g soft cheese
200ml double cream
50g icing sugar
Begin by either blitzing or bashing up the ginger biscuits to breadcrumbs size. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then tip in the smashed biscuits and stir. Pour into a 23cm springform cake tin and press down with your fist to create a sturdy base. Chill for 30 minutes.

Cut the melon in half, place one half in the fridge and remove the seeds of the other. Scoop out the flesh into a blender, or a container suitable to hand blend in. Blitz to a thick liquid and then pour into a saucepan and add the sugar. Bring to boil and reduce for a couple of minutes until syrupy. At this point tip a small amount of the melon syrup into a ramekin. This will be used for the topping later. Return to remaining syrup to the heat and continue to boil until it reaches a thick, sweet syrup. Take off the heat and leave to cool. At this point you can refrigerate the little ramekin of syrup for later use.
Beat the soft cheese in a large bowl until smooth and creamy then add the double cream. Beat, with the icing sugar, until the mixture reaches a thick custard consistency. Pour in the thick melon syrup and stir well until the cheese cake mixture is tinted with yellow and has a mellow and fresh sweetness.

Pour this mixture onto the cooled base and smooth out as evenly as you can. Refrigerate for a good few hours, or ideally overnight.
Once set, take out of the fridge and leave to warm a little for about half hour. Release the cake from the spring form tin and attempt to slide it onto a plate. Take a melon baler to remaining half of melon, and pile the little balls of flesh on top of the cheesecake. Pour over the cold melon syrup, allowing some to run over the sides.

Friday, 7 June 2013

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB GRANITA

I’m bringing you something a little more continental here, but true to form still using the best of British ingredients. A granita is like an icy sorbet, but much easier to make and much lighter (win-win), so its brilliant for these mega hot days we’re currently getting. The beauty of this recipe is if you stop half way you’ve got a great, fresh strawberry rhubarb cordial. Allow to freeze and you get the super refreshing granita.

200g strawberries, hulled
600g (about 4 sticks) rhubarb, washed and roughly chopped
100g light brown sugar
600ml water

Put all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to boil so that the strawberries and rhubarb begin to stew. Simmer until completely broken down and the liquid is a pale red. Turn off the heat and pour into a container through a sieve and leave the fruit to strain, unforced, in the fridge for a good few hours (I left it overnight).

If you stop here at the recipe you have yourself a great cordial.

Once the liquid is fully strained transfer into a different container (for speed reasons, shallower the better) and freeze. After one hour, stir the fruit juice with a fork to break up any ice crystals, and freeze again, repeating the stirring process every hour until frozen and set but still scoop-able.