Posts Tagged ‘Pears’

Cappuccino Truffles

I have always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I yearned for all things festive- glittering decorations, sparkling trees, a frosty winterland when I peek outside my window, intricately decorated cookies. In fact, one of the highlights of living in London was getting caught up in the spirit of Christmas.

The beautiful lights that lined Oxford Street, the food hall at Harrods adorned with exquisite delicacies, even the romantic adverts on TV. I was especially keen on the Marks and Spencer adverts which came out every Christmas.

However, my mum was never keen on the idea. We never celebrated Christmas as she always wanted to hold on to our culture, traditions and religion. And now that I am a mother, I understand that. However, I do want Maryam to enjoy the holiday period. The festive Christmas nursery rhymes, the magical aura of Santa. A winter wonderland full of snow, elves and reindeers.

Living in the middle of a desert means some elements need to be left to the imagination. However, we did celebrate in our own little way by attending a lovely gingerbread decorating session at Sally’s house. Later that week, Maryam helped me wrap a present for a round of Secret Santa at nursery. She had a wonderful party there with lots of cookies, mince pies and learnt some new Christmas nursery rhymes which all the children sang in front of the parents. Besides devouring cookies, her favorite part of the day was sitting in Santa’s lap and receiving her present.

That glow of excitement and amazement in her eyes at the sight of Santa appearing from behind the Christmas tree was priceless. I’m really glad we have found a great balance of being able to celebrate and embrace different holidays, festivals and cultures whilst still holding onto our own identity.

This is the perfect time to share these truffles with you that I made for Mowie’s Christmas Issue. Perfect bite sized treats with a kick of coffee and a crunch from the pecans. I also made some pear tarts with a chocolate crumble, some hazelnuts and coffee. You can get the recipe for the pear tarts here (page 142 onwards).

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with their loved ones with plenty of snow, laughter, cookies and presents. And of course plenty of family time.

Click on recipe to print

Cappuccino Truffles:

150 gms white or dark chocolate (I used white)
80 ml double cream
2 tsp coffee powder
30 gms pecans, finely chopped
1 tbs butter, room temperature
Mixture of Dutch processed cocoa powder and coffee powder for rolling

Chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl. In a pan, bring the cream and coffee powder to a boil and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir in the chopped pecans and butter. Use a wooden spatula to whisk the mixture until a homogeneous ganache is formed. Cover the bowl with a cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or until the ganache is set.

Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and using a teaspoon or a melon scooper, scoop small balls into the palms of your hand and roll into balls. Place on wax paper and back into the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Sift a mixture of cocoa powder and coffee powder into a bowl. Roll each truffle into the mixture and shake off any excess powder with your hands or in a sieve. Serve the truffles at room temperature or store in an air tight container for up to a few weeks.

Makes approximately 16-20 truffles depending on size.  

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Poached Pear Crumble With Chocolate, Coffee and Nuts and Some News

Note: My latest post was eaten up by Blogger as well as your lovely comments 🙁 So here it is again.

The night lights appeared as tiny jewels twinkling outside, Akber was laying on the couch with heavy eyelids. Maryam was breathing rhythmically, curled up in the fetal position and clutching her blanket- fast asleep for the past three hours.

It was past 10pm and I had a very sudden and urgent need to bake. You know the type where a new recipe invades your mind- it won’t let go, your heart buzzes with anticipation. Should I add one or two tablespoons of coffee powder? Will almonds pair better with the pears or perhaps hazelnuts? No I think hazel nuts….or wait. Maybe both. Should I serve it with cold custard or hazel nut ice cream?

Since starting a blog, I have had many such urges- urges to check my email at odd hours, urges to chat to my Twitter friends, urges to take photographs before the sun sets, before hungry souls demolish it. Most times I enjoy the exhilaration but every once in a while, the influx of technology as well as the obsessive trait in my personality can become overwhelming.

However, when the urge to bake at odd and unusual hours results in a beautiful recipe like this poached pear in a coffee, chocolate and hazel nut crumble, I’m not complaining. The idea for this recipe came form a cozy dinner I had a few months ago at a restaurant here in Dubai. They served this in a mini tartelet with chopped pears at the bottom buried in a nutty crumble with delicate hints of dark chocolate and coffee- a match made in heaven.

I remember very slowly eating my way through this dessert, savoring each single bite, trying to decipher the flavors and ingredients. With each mouthful, a new flavor unraveled, a new experience for the palette, a discovery of a new ingredient. I had a twinkle in my eye on the way home, one that always makes Akber weary. He knows what follows- a midnight baking compulsion.

I am ever so pleased to share with you some very exciting news. A few months ago, Sally of Aquarius Magazine asked whether I’d like to shoot and style a 2 page recipe spread for their May issue. After her phone call, my initial reaction was disbelief. Then I screamed my way around the house before calmly calling Akber and my parents.

This pear crumble was one of the recipes featured along with cherry tea cakes, apple tarts and raspberry pancakes. Thank you Aquarius for giving me such a fantastic opportunity so early in my career. I look forward to working with them again very soon so watch this space!

Lastly, I’d like to also let you know that this is the last post where you will see the polka dots on the sidebars and the Lick My Spoon banner at the top. For my next post (which also marks 50 posts for me), I will be changing the whole look of the website along with a new name. I’m very excited for the unveiling and really hope you like the new look too.

Poached Pear Crumble with Chocolate, Coffee and Hazel Nuts

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
120 gms butter, room temperature
120 gms dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbs cocoa powder
4 tbs coffee powder
½ cup hazel nuts, chopped
5 pears
mixture of whole spices such as 1 cinnamon, 1 star anise and 3 cloves

Directions:Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Peel the pears but leave the stalks intact. Put the pears into a pan with 1 tbs coffee and your spice mixture. Add enough water so that they are fully immersed. Boil on medium heat until a skewer can easily pierce the pears (about 30 minutes). Set the pears aside on a cooling rack.

Mix all the rest of the ingredients together so that it resembles breadcrumbs. Take 5 ramekins and place a poached pear into each one. Fill the ramekins all the way to the top with the crumble mixture. Pat down gently. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes. Serve immediately with hazel nut ice cream.

Makes 5 pear crumbles.

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Pear and Almond Cake

Pears are definitely a dime a dozen in Dubai at the moment so when I had family over for dinner last week, I knew I wanted to make a pear based dessert. Off I went to look through my favourites and found not one but two recipes featuring pears. Since I loved the topping of one and the filling of the other, I combined the two to come up with this striking pear and almond cake. Pears and almonds just have a natural affinity to one another eh……..

This souffle type cake is great as it can be prepared in advance and served cold but if you prefer a hot dessert, go ahead and serve it straight out of the oven. The texture is best descibed by Tartelette as part cake, part custard and part souffle. The cake can also be made gluten free by substituting all purpose flour with sorghum flour.

This will store well in the fridge covered for up to several days. I only had two slices left but I felt it somehow tasted even better the next day- almost as though the almond flavour had intensified, the fruit was chewier and the cake denser!

This cake is great for a cold winter night- there’s just something about apples and pears that make you feel all warm and fuzzy don’t you think? We served this cold with a drizzle of custard, although you can also serve with a dollop of cream.

Pear and Almond Cake

2 Anjou pears (peeled cored and sliced)
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbs water
3 tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Centigrade. Grease and flour an 8 inch pan. Arrange pear slices in a uniform fashion at the bottom of your cake pan. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan without stirring. You can swirl the pan to aid in mixing until a light amber color is achieved. Don’t overcaramelise as this will make the topping hard and bitter. Pour this topping evenly over pears.

Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer and at medium speed, beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl when needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the rest of the ingredients. Pour batter over the pears and bake for approximately 30 minutes. The skewer will come out almost clean when done.

Let the cake stand for 5- 10 minutes on a rack and say a prayer before turning it out. This recipe will serve 12 people. 

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