Monday, April 18

Blackberry crème caramel


Crème caramel isn't something I see often in flavours outside of the usual vanilla, unlike it's seemly more popular cousin the crème brulee for which I've seen seemly numerous (and delicious sounding!) variations.

There was a time last year where it seemed like every man, woman, and dog wanted a blow torch to make crème brulee. Everyone just had to have one because they just had to make crème brulee. At this time I was working in a cookware shop and we'd regularly sell out of blow torches (Masterchef, you make Australian's mad!). I would have so many stressed out people looking desperately hunting for the last blow torch in the area. "I'm sorry, we're all sold out" I'd say, "you could try crème caramel instead, it's just as easy." Sometimes people would respond well to this, but most of the time they'd be adamant that they just had to make crème brulee. I suppose I can't blame them really, I know what it's like to be utterly determined to make something.


That being said, I honestly do think crème caramel is just as easy. Sure, there's caramel to make and if you're anything like me making caramel makes you extremely paranoid and scared of messing it up. I've made caramel many times before but even so, every time I freak out. What if it crystallizes, or burns, or catches on fire? I know in reality it doesn't really matter if any of these things happen because I'd just wash the pot and start again. But still, the mere thought of it.

In fact, I did crystallise the caramel for this. Massively so. So, I stamped my feet a bit and down the sink it went. Then I started again. And, voila, no crystallisation. Sure, I undercooked the caramel a bit and it wasn't quite as golden as it should have been but who cares?

So, after puckering on I had crème caramel. That was blackberry flavoured. That was also rather weird but mostly delicious. Seriously folks, time to move beyond the usual vanilla flavoured treats into the realm of berries, ginger, coconut, or anything really.

Also, I'm wondering how normal, more skilled people than I remove crème caramels from their containers? Every book I'm read says to carefully loosen them out with a knife but I just can't do this without ruining them. Instead, I just whack a plate on top, invert, and shake, shake, shake until I hear a satisfying sound that resembles a suction cap coming loose. Is it an elegant technique? No, no really so if you have a better one, let me know!

Down side is that after making this I have even more egg whites to use up. Time to continue on my quest to find an awesome biscuit that uses lots of egg whites.

Blackberry crème caramel

(adapted from Desserts by Christine Manfield)
makes six 150ml creme caramels

For the syrup

125ml water
200g castor sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

for the custard

350ml pouring cream
50ml water
150ml blackberry pureee
2 eggs
6 egg yolks
75g castor sugar
Freshly boiledwater, extra

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Pour sugar, water, and cream of tartar for the syrup into a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Increase the heat to high and boil rapidly, without stirring, until the caramel turns a deep golden brown.

Remove from the heat and immediately divide among the custard cups, swirling each cup to distribute the caramel halfway up the sides. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

To make the custard, place the cream in a small saucepan, place the blackberry puree and the water in another saucepan and bring both pans to just below simmering point.

In a separate bowl, gently whisk the egg yolks, eggs, and castor sugar. Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Add the hot blackberry mixture in the same way. Pass the custard through a fine sieve into a jug, then pour it into the prepared custard cups.

Place the custard cups in a roasting tray and transfer it into the oven. Fill the roasting rack with freshly boiled water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Bale for 45 minutes or until just set. Remove the custards from the oven and leave them to sit in the water bath until cool. Once cooled, stand on a tray and cover in plastic wrap then refrigerate for 5 hours to set before serving.

To serve, suspend each crème caramel in hot water for 30 seconds, then place a plate on top and invert - shaking gently if required.

Monday, April 4



I'm taking a short detour from my barely started quest to find the perfect egg white biscuit recipe to bring you what is probably one of simplest things I've made in a long time. This tasty slice is a breeze to make and, providing you have a sweet tooth, down right delicious.

As it's really quick to make this is an excellent dessert for an impromptu dinner with guests. You know,the ones where you decide an hour or two beforehand that you want to have a guest or two around for dinner and somehow you have to cook a meal, make a dessert, set the table, and make the house presentable. The kind of dinners you can only have with close friends because otherwise you look flustered and slightly disorganised and, in my case, everyone knows that's already the case so there's no harm done.

When I cook I try to make things I've never had before and this is no exception. I've had very similar things but they've always been more complicated to make, involving hot pots, stoves, and all that jazz. Is this really requires for the cake is a minute or two of time and a bowl. The syrup is done in a pinch too. What more can you ask for?



(from Food Safari by Maeve O'meara)
makes 25-30 pieces

For the cake

2 1/2 cups coarse semolina
1 cup dessicated coconut
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (75g) self-raising flour
200g thick yoghurt
200g unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
25-30 blanched almonds
milk, if required

For the syrup

1 1/2 cups (330g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rosewater

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F), grease and line the base of a 30cm x 20cm x 4cm (12" x 8" x 1") baking tin.

Mix the semolina, coconut, flour, yoghurt,melted butter, and vanilla in a bowl. The mixture should be stiff but not dry, if it is too difficult to stir add a little milk.

Spread the mixture into the baking pan, then cut it diagonally into diamonds about 5cm (1") wide. Place an almond in the centre of each diamond.

Bake the cake for 3040 minutes, or until golden on top.

Whilst the cake is cooking, begin the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and rosewater.