Wednesday, February 13

From the Hearth

If you're planning to make something special tomorrow or any other day, for that special person, here are some recipes for a sweet surprise!

First two recipes are from Ludo Lefebvre's great cookbook "Crave".

Cake of Apple Confit

Zest confit

2 oranges
2 lemons
1 ruby red grapefruit
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel and white pith from the oranges, lemons and grapefruit. Using a small, sharp knife, trim away all the pith from the peel. Cut the peel into julienne strips (makes about 1 1/2 cups total). Place them in a small saucepan of water.
2. Bring the water to a boil. Drain. Rinse the peel under cold water. Repeat this process once.
3. Combine the peel, the 1 1/4 cups of water and sugar in the same pan. Simmer gently over medium-low heat until the juices evaporate and the strips become translucent, about 45 minutes. Set aside.

Apple Cake

2 cups sugar, divided
3 tbsp water
15 Granny Smith apples (about 8 1/2 lb - 4kg), peeled and cored

Crème fraîche

1. Heat the oven to 250 F/120 C. Oil a 3-quart (8-by-4 1/2 -inch) charlotte mold (medium sized deep iron cast would work too).
2. Combine 1 cup of the sugar and the water in a heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring, over medium heat, until the syrup turns a deep amber brown and just begins to smoke, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirling the pan, about 8 minutes.
3. Carefully pour the caramel into the charlotte mold. Using oven mitts, swirl the mold to coat the interior completely with the caramel (the caramel will stick to the pan as it cools). Refrigerate until the caramel is cold and set.
4. Using a mandoline, cut the apples crosswise into 1/8 -inch-thick slices. Arrange enough apple slices to cover the bottom of the charlotte mold, overlapping slightly and in concentric circles, to create 1 layer. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 tablespoon zest confit over the layer of apples. Repeat layering all of the apple slices with the sugar and zest confit, alternating the direction of the concentric circles to increase the stability of the cake, pressing to compact the layers, and creating about 20 layers. Cover with aluminium foil.
5. Place the charlotte mold in a deep roasting pan. Fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Bake until a skewer inserted near the centre of the apples does not meet resistance, about 5 hours. Refrigerate until cold, several hours or overnight.
6. Remove the foil. Place the mold in a sauté pan of simmering water to melt the caramel coating slightly and help loosen the apple cake, about 3 minutes. Place a platter on top of the mold. Holding the mold with one hand and the platter with the other, invert the mold onto the platter. Remove the mold.
7. Cut the apple cake into 12 wedges and transfer to dessert plates. Drizzle with juices from the cake and serve with crème fraîche.
A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be perfect with this too!

Chocolate Soufflé for two
(Can be prepared 4 hours ahead)

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (for coating the ramekin(s))
1/4 cup of granulated sugar, plus about 2 tbsp (for coating the ramekin(s))
4 oz (120g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 large egg whites

Bittersweet chocolate sauce
¼ cup whipping cream
2 oz (60g) bittersweet chocolate chopped

Whipped cream
whip together:
2/3 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar

Vanilla ice cream
Cinnamon (for sprinkling)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of 2-9 oz. ramekins or baking cups with butter and then coat with the 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the ramekins in a heavy-duty pan and add enough water to come halfway up the dish's (this will help the souffles cook evenly).
In a small bowl over a medium sauce pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. While the chocolate is melting, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar into the egg whites. Take the melted chocolate and beat it gently into the egg white-sugar mixture. Give it a few folds to make sure the chocolate is incorporated, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. Fill each ramekin with the mixture. If you not baking immediately, leave it at a room temperature.
Bake in the oven for 14 minutes.

For the sauce: Stir the cream and chocolate in a heavy small saucepan over medium low heat until melted and smooth.

Optional: Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve warm.

More sweets for two:

Always great Crepes:
with chocolate and strawberries, of course!

More complicated - Chocolate pasta

If you want some great appetiser I recommend:

Special homemade drink - Rose and Lavender soda


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