Caramel Apple Tartlets

A very simple tartlet that is easy to prepare. Delicious caramel is spread over a pastry base and covered with thinly sliced sweet apples. Sugar is then sprinkled over the top just before serving.

Caramel Apple Tartlets

6 tartlets
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Resting time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the pastry
  • 225 g (8 oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (1¾ cups)
  • pinch of salt
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 55 g (2 oz) shortening (¼ cup)
  • 3–4 tbsp very cold water
  • For the filling
  • 6 tbsp rounded, Dulche de la Leche (a caramel spread)
  • 3 small eating apples
  • icing/powdered sugar to dust

To serve

  • Vanilla ice cream or pouring cream

Equipment

  • You will also need 6 x 20 cm (4 inch) individual tartlet tins.
  • Method
  • For the pastry
  • Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • Now add the butter and shortening, cutting them into small pieces using two knives.
  • Pick up the mixture in small handfuls and gently rub the fat through the flour with the tips of the fingers. Continue until the fat is evenly blended throughout the flour and the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. (This can also be achieved in a food processor.)
  • Then sprinkle 3 tablespoons water over the mixture and, using a fork or round-ended table knife, draw the mixture together until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean and forms a rough ball, adding extra water if the mixture seems dry.
  • Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice to form a smooth ball.
  • Wrap in a plastic food bag and rest it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  • Now roll out the pastry quite thinly.
  • Using a tartlet tin as a guide, cut out six circles slightly larger than the tin and use to line the six tartlet tins.
  • Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and return to the fridge for a further 15 minutes for the pastry to firm up.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) (gas 6) and place a baking sheet in the oven while it is warming up.
  • For the filling
  • Spread 1 rounded tablespoon of the Dulche de la Leche over the base of the pastry and up the sides.
  • Quarter, core and thinly slice the apples (do not peel).
  • Neatly pile the apple slices upright over the caramel.
  • Then carefully place the tins on the hot baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Lightly dust with icing/powdered sugar just before serving.
Print Recipe

Which sugar for meringues?

Hi all North American friends

I was really pleased to find superfine sugar in my grocery store some time ago and have been using it in many recipes where, in the UK, one would use caster sugar.

Having used it on numerous occasions now, I have come to the conclusion that it really works well when baking but I have not been as pleased with the results when making meringue.

Granulated sugar is finer than granulated sugar in the UK and superfine is finer than caster sugar. Not a lot but enough that, when whisking the sugar into the egg white, granulated sugar gives a stiffer result. So I have gone back to using granulated sugar for meringues here in Canada.

Hope you are all enjoying this lovely summer weather at last.

Italian Cottage Pie

This recipe is a quick and tasty twist to a regular cottage pie. The beef is cooked with chopped onions and red peppers in a tomato base, seasoned with Italian herbs. This is then topped with a creamy, cheesy, mashed potato and then browned under the grill/broiler.

Italian Cottage Pie

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 35 minutes
  • Cooking time: 35–40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 675 g (1½ lb) potatoes (4–5 medium)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 450 g (1 lb) minced/ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tin/can condensed tomato soup, Campbell’s
  • 180 ml (6 fl oz) milk (¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 55 g (2 oz) butter (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
  • 140 g (5 oz) cheese, grated (1¼ cup) shredded

To serve

  • A Chinese cabbage really goes well with this dish or any other green vegetable.

Equipment

  • You will also need a 1.2 litre (2 pint) (5 cup) flame-proof dish.
  • Method
  • Peel and cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces. Place in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Add a little salt and then simmer for 20 minutes until tender.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the beef and brown over a medium heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
  • Now reduce the heat and add the onion and pepper to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes to soften.
  • Next return the beef to the pan and stir in the soup, milk, and Italian seasoning. Then gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While the beef mixture is simmering, warm the flame-proof dish and preheat the grill/broiler.
  • Once the potatoes are tender, drain and add the butter and cheese. Mash until the potatoes are smooth and creamy.
  • Now spoon the beef into the flame-proof dish and top with the mashed potato.
  • Grill/broil until the potatoes are golden on top.
Print Recipe

Lemon Meringue Ice Gateau

Lemon Meringue Ice Gateau

8 servings
  • Preparation time: 45 minutes
  • Freezing time: overnight
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • For the lemon curd
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 2 lemons
  • 115 g (4 oz) granulated sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 40 g (1½ oz) butter, cubed (3 tbsp)
  • For the gateau
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1¾ cups)
  • 400 g Greek yogurt
  • 170 g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • 2 lemons, zest only (reserved from making the lemon curd)
  • 4 meringue nests, crushed**
  • 6 tbsp lemon curd

Note

  • **This is a great way to use up left over meringue nests but they can be made especially for the recipe. See recipe below.
  • For decoration
  • 240 ml (8 fl oz) double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1 cup)
  • 3 tbsp lemon curd
  • ½ lemon and lime, optional
  • You will also need an 18 cm (7 inch) spring-clip cake tin/spring-form pan lined with baking parchment.
  • Method
  • If making the meringues, prepare these ahead of time (see below).
  • Next make the lemon curd before assembling the gateau.
  • For the lemon curd
  • Zest the lemons and reserve for making the gateau.
  • Then juice them and put in a bowl with the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together.
  • Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
  • Add the cubes of butter, stirring continuously until the butter has melted.
  • Now continue stirring until the curd thickens enough to hold a trail.
  • Remove from the heat and leave to become cold while making the gateau. The curd will thicken and set as it becomes cold.
  • For the gateau
  • Pour the cream into a large bowl.
  • Add the yogurt, sugar and reserved lemon zest.
  • Whisk together until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  • Now roughly crush the meringues and gently fold in.
  • Spoon 6 tablespoons of the lemon curd over the top and, using a round-ended knife, cut in to form swirls throughout the mixture.
  • Carefully spoon into the prepared tin/pan and level the surface.
  • Cover and freeze overnight.
  • To serve
  • Remove the gateau from the freezer and allow it to stand for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile whip the cream until just stiff.
  • Now release the gateau from the tin/pan and transfer to a serving plate.
  • Decorate the top with the whipped cream and 3 tablespoons of lemon curd.
  • If using the half lemon and lime, cut each into half and slice. They can be added, shaped into a fan, for extra decoration.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Any unused portion can be returned to the freezer in a covered, rigid container.
Print Recipe

Meringue Shells

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour, plus cooling in the oven
  • Ingredients
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/granulated sugar (1 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • Method
  • Preheat oven to cool, 140°C (275°F) (gas 1).
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  • Gradually whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition, until stiff and glossy.
  • Now line a baking tray/sheet with baking parchment. Dabbing a little meringue on each corner of the baking tray/sheet first will keep the lining in place.
  • Spoon 6 mounds of meringue onto the baking paper.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour, until the meringues shells lift easily from the paper.
  • Turn off the oven but leave the meringue shells inside to completely dry out while the oven is cooling down.
  • Note that you will only need four of the shells for the above recipe.
Print Recipe

Classic Crème Brûlée

Classic Crème Brûlée

These crème brûlées are so creamy they make just the perfect dessert. Egg yolks, sugar and cream flavoured with vanilla make the creamy custard, and it’s topped with brittle caramel.

I have shared two methods for creating the caramelized topping, one using a chef’s blowtorch and the other using the grill/broiler.

Classic Crème Brûlée

6 servings
  • Preparation time: 25–40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Cooling time: 2 hours
  • Refrigeration time: 6 hours or overnight, plus 2 hours on day of serving
  • Ingredients
  • For the custard
  • butter, for greasing
  • 4 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • 40 g (1½ oz) caster/superfine sugar (3 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) single/table cream (1¼ cups)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
  • For the topping

  • 6 tbsp golden caster/granulated sugar, if using a chef’s blowtorch
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster sugar/granulated sugar (½ cup), if not using a chef’s blowtorch
  • You will also need 6 x 150 ml, 5 fl oz (⅔ cup)heatproof ramekins


  • Method
  • For the custard
  • Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) gas 3.

  • Lightly grease ramekins with butter and put to one side.

  • Have some boiling water ready.
  • Meanwhile, line a deep-sided ovenproof dish or small roasting pan with a layer of kitchen paper and sit the six ramekins on the paper (the paper prevents the ramekins from slipping).
  • Next pour both creams into a pan and heat until scalding. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

  • While the cream is cooling, put the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

  • Then gradually pour in the cream, while whisking at the same time, until the cream and egg mixture is blended together.
  • Strain the custard into a jug and then divide amongst the six ramekins.
  • Carefully pour enough of the boiling water into the ovenproof dish or roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes as the custard still needs to have a slight wobble to it.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and leave the ramekins in the water until the water has cooled.
  • Now take the ramekin dishes out of the water, cover them and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  • For the topping, using a chef’s blowtorch
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the custard in each ramekin. The sugar needs to cover the custard completely.
  • Now caramelize the sugar under a direct flame.

  • Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.

  • For the topping, without using a chef’s blowtorch
  • First, have a piece of parchment paper ready on a chopping board.
  • Next, put the sugar in a stainless steel pan and add just enough water to dampen the sugar.
  • Place over a low heat and stir the sugar until completely dissolved. Then increase the heat to medium–high. Without stirring, leave the sugar to bubble fiercely. When the bubbling lessens and the sugar has turned a pale straw colour it will be ready.
  • Carefully, pour the caramel onto the paper (it will be extremely hot) and leave it to become cold.
  • Now turn on the grill/broiler to high and leave for 5 minutes to become really hot.

  • The caramel will have hardened on cooling. Break it into small pieces and blitz in a food processor or blender until there are really fine granules (finer than caster/superfine sugar).
  • Sprinkle evenly over the custard in each ramekin, right to the edge, so that the custard is completely covered.
  • Put the ramekins on a baking tray/sheet and place under the heat source, as close as possible. Cook for less than a minute, not letting the sugar burn. The heat just needs to melt the sugar.
  • Leave to cool and then refrigerate for two hours before serving.
Print Recipe

Updated: May 17, 2020

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

Individual servings of the Baked Alaska. Mini sponge flans are topped with raspberry jam and creamy ice cream, covered in a soft meringue, then quickly baked to set the meringue but leaving the ice cream frozen inside.

Baked Alaska

4 individual servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • Standing time: 10 minutes
  • Freezing time: at least 1 hour plus overnight
  • Cooking time: 3–5 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 4 mini sponge flans
  • 4 tbsp raspberry conserve
  • 250 ml good quality ice-cream, raspberry, or strawberry (4 large scoops)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 7 g (¼ oz) flaked almonds (1½ tbsp)


  • Method
  • Remove the ice cream from the fridge to soften a little, about 10 minutes.

  • Fill each sponge flan with 1 tablespoon of conserve and level the top.
  • Then, using an ice cream scoop, top with one large scoop of ice cream.
  • Return to the freezer for at least one hour.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Sprinkle over the cream of tartar and whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition, until the mixture is stiff and shiny.
  • Now, using a palette knife to spread the meringue, completely cover the sponges and ice cream. Then drawing upwards with the tip of a knife, make little swirls with the meringue. Freeze overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F) (gas 8).
  • Scatter the almonds over the meringue, then bake for 3–5 minutes until the meringue just starts to brown.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Tip
  • The prepared Alaskas can be left frozen for up to one month. Bake in the oven as directed above but leave for 15 minutes before serving.
Print Recipe

Updated: May 9, 2020

Eton Mess

Eton Mess

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes
  • If also making the meringue shells:
  • Extra time needed for preparation: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: for the meringue shells: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus cooling in the oven
  • Ingredients
  • 450 g (1 lb) strawberries (about 3 cups)
  • 284 ml (9 fl oz) carton double cream/whipping or heavy cream (1⅛ cups)
  • 1 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
  • 4 small meringues shells*
  • a few mint leaves, finely shredded for decoration

Note

  • *This dish is a great way to use up any left over meringue shells. However, if making them especially for this dish, follow the recipe below and prepare them first.
  • For the meringues
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), whites only
  • 115 g (4 oz) caster/superfine sugar (1 cup + 1 tbsp)

To serve

  • You will also need 4 sundae glasses.

For a Tipsy Eton Mess

  • as above, plus:
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
  • Method
  • For the meringues
  • Preheat oven to cool, 140°C (275°F) (gas 1)
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  • Gradually whisk in the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking well between each addition, until stiff and glossy.
  • Now line a baking tray/sheet with baking parchment. Dabbing a little meringue on each corner of the baking tray/sheet first will keep the lining in place.
  • Spoon 6 mounds of meringue onto the baking paper.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, until the meringues shells lift easily from the paper.
  • Turn off the oven but leave the meringue shells inside to completely dry out while the oven is cooling down.
  • Now while you are waiting for the meringues to cool in the oven, the strawberries can be prepared.
  • Note that you will only need four of the shells for this recipe.
  • For the Eton Mess
  • Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.
  • Halve or quarter them so they are all of a similar size.
  • Place them in a large bowl and sprinkle over the sugar. 
  • If making a Tipsy Eton Mess, add the Grand Marnier now.
  • Then mix gently and leave for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • Break the meringue shells into bite-sized pieces.
  • Next whip the cream in a large bowl until it forms soft peaks. It should still fall from a spoon.
  • Put 20 strawberry halves and about a quarter of the broken meringue pieces to one side for decoration.
  • Then gently fold the rest of the meringue into the cream and, just using a few strokes, fold in the strawberries and their juice.
  • Divide between the glass dishes and top each dish with an equal quantity of the reserved strawberry halves and meringue.
  • Finally sprinkle over the shredded mint leaves, if using.
  • Serve immediately.
Print Recipe