Pudding club: speculoos trifle

When on holiday in Brussels over Easter we found many speculoos desserts on the menu in cafés and bars. It was a common flavour in icecream parlours. Heading out for a late night beer in the Grande Place and a speculoos trifle slash tiramisu was on the menu.

The spread is now available in larger Sainsbury’s and has been for a couple of years, and so is no longer something I have to stock up on in French supermarkets. It wasn’t so readily available when I made an online supermarket order and they brought the biscuits instead.

This recipe was half made up, half inspired by browsing these French recipes and a website somewhere that included savoury ones (eg lamb tagine where you add crumbs of speculoos biscuits with mint leaves and olives at the last moment.)

Speculoos is gaining in popularity – Olive magazine recently had an interesting looking cheesecake with a speculoos crust.

This speculoos trifle slash cheesecake tastes absolutely delicious but looks... #puddingclub

Speculoos trifle

Yield 6

1x 250gr Biscoff / Lotus biscuits
75gr salted butter
half a jar lemon curd
half a jar – 200gr smooth Speculoos spread
250gr mascarpone

Reserve three biscuits and blitz the remainder in a food processor

Melt the butter over a low heat and add the biscuit crumbs. Stir well

Divide the biscuit base between six ramekins and press in.

Chill a few hours until the base is firm. (Not essential, but it will help avoid the crumb coming away in the next step)

Spoon a dessertspoonful of lemon curd onto the top of each biscuit base.

Combine the speculoos with the mascarpone and stir until well combined. (You may prefer to leave it lightly mixed but well marbled?)

Pipe the speculoos cream onto the base. Chill again.

Break the reserved three biscuits in half and use to garnish.

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Pudding Club: Raymond Blanc’s pineapple 3 ways

I think Raymond likes to put a challenge in his programmes and dare viewers to make the most complicated possible dishes. How many people does he really expect to have the time to follow such elaborate instructions? Saved for a year when I have days to practise is his “café crème” – a hand made chocolate espresso cup with coffee icecream in it and garnished with sugarcube truffles. (37-step written recipe here)

But for our recent pudding club outing it was his Pineapple 3 Ways dessert I made, another of his signature dishes, and one created for the Queen Mother, who was partial to pineapple.

The recipe is here, and I pretty much followed it as written, should you too fancy faffing for four hours with fruit.

Making caramel is still something I find difficult, and it’s possible I burnt it slightly. Adding cold water to hot caramel in a pan is a weird thing to do, and resulted in the caramel solidifying on the bottom with the water floating on top of it. Eventually it melted again and left me with a sauce for drizzling the roast pineapple in. Every 15 minutes for two hours!

When it came out, it looked like this and I should have served it this way for spectacle, rather than having to cut it up to transport:

Making Raymond Blanc's insanely complicated "pineapple 3 ways"

The roasted pineapple was delicious. If I do this again I will roast two pineapples. The same amount of caramel basting liquid would be fine and it would not be much more work to prepare and cook two. Even after roasting for two hours, I think the core was still pretty tough, so I carved it off and removed it.

The pineapple sorbet recipe is easy and delicious, and definitely something I will make again, although in slightly smaller quantities as it bulked up a lot in the ice cream maker and foamed over the edge of the pot before it froze. It would make a lovely inter-course palate cleanser for one of those no-holds-barred dinner parties.

The dried pineapple was a bit of a disaster. I don’t have a mandolin and could not get the slices thin enough.

Ultimately, six of us – four adults and two children under five – wolfed down two pineapples very quickly, with the children slightly short changed in how much roasted pineapple they got. It certainly wouldn’t have fed 8 adults, hence the idea of using two next time.

As I started to write this I had in mind that it was an enormous faff, but clearly by the time I get to the end I’m starting to think about the next time I do it…

Pudding club: lemon posset with lemon shortbread

A rare occurrence – a term time pudding club – made possible because of a training day.

I made lemon posset with lemon shortbread, and we also took over one of P’s award-winning chocolate cakes.

Whilst the shortbread was a wee bit fiddly – and not properly cooked in the event – the posset is an incredibly simple but effective dessert. Three ingredients, made in less than five minutes, allowed to cool and then a few hours in the fridge. Yields a complex and tangy taste that is super delicious. A pint of cream yielded 7 filled reused pots.

Wikipedia reveals that whilst these days, a posset is a cold dessert, it was originally a warm drink of hot milk curdled by adding wine or ale. Hmmm, hot, curdled beery milk. Delicious!

My decadent week of cake

Various things – friends visiting to see our new chickens, the last opportunity for Pudding Club before term starts again and a new found fatalism on the weight front (yeah, topping 100kg again!) has meant I have been cooking an awful lot of cake this week. I made…

Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich.

All the icing sugar in the world can't hide the fact the cakes are split and burned!

Which I burnt. Things I learned: a four egg mix is a good amount for my sandwich tins. 2oz of buttercream is not really enough to fill it and it takes an awful lot of jam. I need to turn the oven down. It’s really enough to combine the mix quite loosely – I would normally cream the butter with the sugar quite vigourously before adding the eggs and flour. This recipe calls for all the ingredients to go in at once and only basic mixing. And it’s fine for it.

Coffee flavoured cupcakes

Coffee cupcakes for sister in law visit.

Things I learned: a one egg sponge mix is ample to fill all four of the dinky new cupcake moulds I got for my birthday. Two spoons of instant coffee for the buttercream and two in the cake mix is about right for my taste but a bit too strong for everyone else. I need to work on my two tone icing technique and on icing more generally.

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Roulade

Oh noes! Multiple cracks! But it still looks rouladelicious!

Things I learned: this is easier than it looks. It uses a lot of eggs (might be a good thing once the birds start laying!) No flour! I turned it into a sort of Schwarzwaldkirschroulade with half a bag of frozen cherries turned into a simple jam by boiling with sugar and bits of port and kirsh I had knocking around. I make sure the sponge was good and damp and boiled some of the left up juice to a slightly stiffer set to make a drizzling jus for presentation:

And black forest roulade served with a cherry and port jus.

Dan Lepard’s cinnamon buns

An old favourite. I don’t think I’ve ever made them without burning them a little, however – in this case, although they looked blackened they didn’t taste burnt at all.

What I learned: the recipe fits neatly in my large rectangular roasting tin – I’ve always used my round 9″ cake tin before. If you leave them to prove whilst ringing for a wedding, they will likely go over the top of the tin.

Massively over proven cinnamon buns waiting for the oven to get to temperature

But they will still taste delicious and wonderful anyway.

Brownies

This recipe is a good’un and came out with the desired highly squidgy interiors. The recipe is extremely detailed, and I might have glossed over the finer points.

I had to pop off to Dunelm to buy a new tin for making the swiss roll needed for the roulade, and whilst I was there, bought a square tin for brownies and tray bakes, which I have felt I needed for a while. This recipe fills it really well.

Even more cooking for chicken visitors!

The picture shows afternoon tea with tuna and yellow pepper sandwiches, a small plate of cucumber sandwich bites, strong black coffee, and brownies and cinnamon buns for after.

Perhaps the main thing I learned is that my mobile phone takes horrible food pictures!