Little French Tart

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This little French tart is a staple at boulangeries throughout Paris, and though undeniably faffy to make, it really is easier than it seems and so, so worth the trouble. It’s perfect for a goûter, the afternoon snack that’s so critical to French culture. One of many reasons I love this country.

This recipe comes from the, frankly bloody amazing ‘Grand Manuel du Patisserie’, which is the best book I have ever seen on the subject. But bear in mind the book is in French.

I used their recipe for the Tarte aux Fraises – but I made a tarte aux framboises, because raspberries are everywhere at the moment and I love them. The quantities below are for my little tart tin on account of my teeny-tiny oven, which happily serves six people. I basically halved the recipe from the book for my six-inch tart tin, so it’s simple to just double it.

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Spiced Wine Poached Pears

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I was introduced to making poached pears for my girlfriend’s birthday. Turns out she’s partial to a poached pear and chocolate tart, and I’m partial to demanding I be the one to make all my friends’ birthday desserts. I sent some photos through to my Nan as well, she said it’s something she’s loved for a long time so it will have to be on the menu next time I see her. This recipe is absurdly easy, it’s basically cooking pears in mulled wine. If you’re interested, it’s rather low fat; unless, like me, you want to enjoy it properly with lots of cream of ice cream. Delicious. I used Concorde Pears, but as long as they’re firm, and not bruised, they’ll work.

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Strawberry, Rose and Vanilla Jam

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Ok I know that you can buy jam for like three euros in 2 minutes. BUT there’s some Martha-Stewart-is-my-Spirit-Animal type magic about making your own, and the freedom to mix some incredible, unique flavours (French Brandy and Orange Marmalade, anyone?). I am obsessed with Turkish rose water in everything from cakes to face spritzer, strawberries are super abundant right now and sometimes I just want to spend a damn afternoon making jam.

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Homemade Tomato Sauce

Call me Nonna
Call me Nonna

Homemade tomato sauce is amazing. There’s a freshness and an earthiness that comes from doing it yourself and a fun bit of smugness from whipping out a jar of the homemade stuff and pouring it over some pasta with an air of ‘here’s a little something I prepared earlier’. But if we’re going to be frank about it, it does also make a bit of a cluster-fuck of the kitchen as it can be messy and time consuming. But I’m all about that life. This is the kind of thing I’ll do on a Sunday afternoon (read: Friday night) and enjoy spending the time tweaking with an extra pinch of salt here or a splash of balsamic there. I love it because you get a perfect jar (or two) of something that can be added to huge amount of dishes and just ups the delight factor in eating them. Whenever I make this I feel like it’s just extra preparation into becoming a fabulous Nonna who grows her own tomatoes and makes wine. I blame Italy for that dream.

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Happy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’m not too proud to admit to missing my besties back in Deutschland. But luckily, we all well know, the second best thing to love is sweet and salty carbohydrates. So Voila, my Happy Chocolate Chip cookies. Van Gogh ate paint to cheer himself up, so this is my version. I like it here, but some days I’d love nothing more than to be jumping on a tram to visit my friends and end up curled up on the couch with a cup of tea, talking rubbish with a plate of something delicious. But in the meanwhile, I’ll just settle for the latter.

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I also sent a package of these to Mr. Fantastic when he had to sod off to America, and they received my best ever review, that “They’re so good, every homie in the hood should have one”. Which was amazing. As are the cookies. Sweet, chewy, crisp and with a special surprise ingredient it’s just the best damn thing to put in your mouth.

A sprinkle of sea salt is the incredible, happy twist on your run of the mill chocolate chip cookie. The saltiness stops it being too sweet and hits your tongue with a blissful surprise that really brings out the chocolate flavour.

To the Commander and my Bloody-Mary-Brunch-Buddy, I miss you idiots.

So here’s my cookie recipe. Eat my feels. Nomnomnom.

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Ingredients

Butter 250g

Sugar 375g (a mix of brown and white sugar, about 150g white, rest brown, don’t be too finicky).

Half a packet of baking powder (about half a teaspoon).

1 egg, with 1 extra egg yolk

Plain flour 450g

Pinch of table salt

Sea salt

Roughly chopped cooking chocolate 200g

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

This is suuuuper simple. With an electric beater, cream together butter and sugar, then beat in the egg and the extra yolk. Mix together the flour, the pinch of salt and the baking powder, the add to the butter-sugar mix, first with a wooden spoon, then work in with your hands as it becomes a dough. You might think it’s too much, but it works in eventually.

With your hands work in the chopped pieces of chocolate. Wrap the dough in plastic-wrap, and leave to chill in the fridge for an hour (or up to two days).

Roll out dough into ping-pong ball sized pieces and place on a baking-paper lined tray. Press down very slightly to flatten just a little. Sprinkle the balls with sea-salt, and press in gently, but don’t smush).

Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating if necessary for an even bake.

Eat with friends, or the entire batch yourself.

Eat with friends, or the entire batch.

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