Frangipane tartlets with a biscuit base

I saw a programme on telly the other day where Mary Berry made an apple frangipane tart. She used crushed digestives for the base instead of the usual pastry.  I thought that was a great idea for days when you can’t be bothered with pastry and it’s accompanying drama but you still want something crisp and crunchy around your tart.

Today was such a day.

Ingredients

  • 6 digestive biscuits
  • 2 tbs melted butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a few drops of almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g ground almonds
  • A small handful of flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly butter 4 tartlet tins (12cm)

  1. Smash the digestives up and mix in the melted butter.

    Use this to line the tartlet tins. Squash it into the nooks and crannies using a flat bottomed glass.20160324_170830 Put them in the fridge while you get on with the filling.

  2. Beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Beat in the extracts.
  3. Beat in the eggs one by one.
  4. Fold in the ground almonds.
  5. Divide the filling between the tartlet tins. 20160324_173853Scatter with flaked almonds and bake for 16-19 mins until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.20160324_180024
  6. Allow to cool for 15 min before removing the tins.

 

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Frangipane tartlets with a biscuit base

Cheat’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Last time my big sister came to visit I put a lot of time and effort into making the ice cream she wanted before she ate about a spoonful and declared it “too sweet.” As you can imagine, I was quite annoyed.

 

Usually I don’t go for “cheat” recipes but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again so I wanted to make something quick and easy but suitably impressive. And delicious. And delicious it was! No one realised that it was not as it seems.

It’s probably a bit grand to call this a recipe, it’s barely a glorified serving suggestion but anyway, here’s how to do it.

  1. Get a tub of fancy fresh custard. Not the yellow stuff made from powder. I used Waitrose’s seriously creamy Madagascan vanilla custard.
  2. Pour custard into ice cream machine and churn. 20160315_182053If you don’t have a machine, pour it into a shallow tub (with a lid) and put it in the freezer. Take it out every hour and give it a good stir to break up any ice crystals. It could take 4 or more hours depending on your freezer, the size of your tub, etc.
  3. Get hold of some caramel or dulce de leche. You could make it yourself by putting an unopened tin of condensed milk into a pan of boiling water for 2 hours. Or buy it; Carnation do a good one as do Bonne Maman (that’s the one I used). For a 500g tub of custard I used 3 heaped tablespoons of caramel. Add a good pinch of salt to the caramel and stir it in properly. 20160315_184254Give it a little taste. Try not to eat it all now.
  4. By now your custard should be vanilla ice cream. Get a freezer tub and put a layer of ice cream in the bottom. Drizzle on some caramel and repeat until you’ve used everything up. Pull a table knife through it a few times to give it a fancy marbled look.
  5. Put the ice cream back in the freezer for at least 30 min to harden up before you serve it. Make sure you chuck all the evidence away.
  6. Serve and enjoy the compliments. ..20160315_201353

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Cheat’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream

My New Favourite Thing #1

When I was at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show last week I happened upon this:

20160310_200208
Megabrite LED small bayonet 3.5w light bulb

The Megabrite LED bulb for sewing machines. I got it from the World of Sewing stand but I don’t see it on their website.

My sewing machine is an old mechanical machine with an old incandescent bulb that tends to get very hot when it’s been on a while. This new bulb doesn’t and it’s also a lot brighter, it’s like having a little daylight lamp!

In real life the difference is a lot clearer and more obvious. I wish I’d had this at the start of winter, it will make evening sewing loads easier. With this improvement I can put off buying a new machine for a little while longer!

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My New Favourite Thing #1

Banana & Walnut Loaf

This is one of those cakes that everyone loves. One such person is Dr O who started her maternity leave this week. So I decided to make 2, one for me and one for her. I had been ignoring a bunch of bananas especially but usually this is the perfect way to use up those bananas that are past their prime.

Ingredients

  • 60g walnuts
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 30g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 300g bananas (peeled weight), that’s about 2 medium but  little more or less won’t hurt

Butter and line a loaf tin approx 23x13x7cm or similar, I think that’s about a 1lb tin

Method

  1. Put the oven on to heat at 170°C fan. While it’s warming up put the walnuts onto a baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 5 minutes. You just want to cook them enough to not go soggy in the cake. When they’re done let them cool and chop coarsely.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb together so they are well mixed. Take a tablespoon of flour mix and add to the chopped nuts. This will help prevent the nuts sinking to the bottom of the loaf.20160228_115228
  3. Beat the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla extract and beat some more so it’s light and fluffy.20160228_120016
  4. Beat in the eggs one by one.
  5. Mash one banana and chop the other into smallish pieces and stir them in.
    20160228_121107
    It still looks nice here

    It will look a bit curdle-y now but don’t worry

  6. Add half of the flour mixture, fold in in gently then fold in the rest. Fold in the nuts.
  7. Plop it into the tin 20160228_121808and bake for 50-65 min until a toothpick comes out clean. If they get too brown on top before they are cooked, put some foil over them…I probably should have! 20160228_131049

If you can’t be bothered with the two different types of sugar that’s OK.  You can use all caster or golden caster sugar.

You can eat this like a cake but it is also delicious toasted and buttered. Or toasted and spread with Nutella. Or you could swap the nuts for choccy chips or rum soaked raisins.

 
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Banana & Walnut Loaf