Hazelnuts and chocolate together are not only a classic combination, but also one of my absolute favourites. And Frangelico, the Italian hazelnut liqueur, is something I could happily quaff at any time, so I was certain a forkful of this delicious tipple in the tarts would be just the ticket. Both chocolate and hazelnuts are complemented by orange, so I decided to add a little finely grated orange zest to the shortcrust for an extra and tangy flavour punch.
When I was growing up, it was always a huge treat to be taken out for lunch and we often went to an excellent old-fashioned pub in Langton Green called The Hare because it was a particular favourite of my Grandad's. I don't usually get particularly excited by ice-cream (unlike my Mum, who always ensures she always has a larger supply than she will ever eat, if only to feel a reassuring sense of comfort on opening her freezer door), but you couldn't go to The Hare and not get excited by the honeycomb ice cream. I knew that whatever pudding I chose would be accompanied by a scoop before I'd even entered the building. I don't know if they still do it, having not been there for years, but if they've taken it off the menu I hope they somehow find this blog post and think again.
I was slightly concerned that my pudding wouldn't balance - was the addition of honeycomb ice cream a flavour step too far? No, it couldn't be - honeycomb ice cream goes with everything after all. Although this might be a stretch, even at The Hare, it was certainly true for my hazelnut and chocolate tarts. In fact, Richard declared it to be his favourite Alphabet Soup pudding so far.
Hazelnut and chocolate tart
for the pastry (enough to line 8 to 10 individual tart moulds or a 9" tart case)
5oz/ 125g unsalted butter
4oz/ 100g icing sugar, sifted
9oz/ 225g plain flour, sifted
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold milk
The seeds from 1 vanilla pod
The finely grated zest of 1 orange
A pinch of salt
I often make shortcrust pastry in the food processor - it really is the work of seconds to make the dough. If you don't have one, don't panic, it will only be the work of minutes nonetheless, but make sure your butter is at room temperature if doing it by hand - it doesn't seem to matter if it's used straight from fridge in a machine.
Blitz together the butter and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough begins to form. Tip it out on to a large sheet of cling film, pat it down slightly and pop it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. Preheat your oven to 180 C (160C Fan).
Line your tart cases and blind bake them. Click here for instructions. Leave the cases to cool while you get on with making the filling.
for the praline
4oz/ 100g skinned and blanched hazelnuts
2oz/ 50g caster sugar
Oil a large baking tray. Put the nuts and sugar in a heavy based saucepan and place over a medium heat until brown. Pour out on to your prepared baking sheet and leave to cool. Once cool, break it into pieces and crush it with a toffee hammer or rolling pin or blitz it in a food processor.
for the filling
10oz/ 250g good quality dark chocolate (I used Divine 70%), chopped
4oz/ 100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
600 ml double cream
3 egg yolks
A forkful of Frangelico
Place the chopped chocolate and butter in a large mixing bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil and pour over the chocolate and butter (if you've left it on the heat too long and the cream starts to come to a rolling boil, leave it to stand for 1 minute before pouring over the chocolate, so you won't burn the chocolate, making it grainy and inedible). Leave the mixture to stand for a couple of minutes before gently stirring it with a rubber spatula until the chocolate and butter has melted and the ganache is thick. Whisk in the egg yolks and then add the Frangelico - tasting the mixture until you have added the perfect amount - it's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.
to build your tarts
Scatter a layer of praline into your cold tart cases before pouring in the hazelnut and chocolate filling. Scatter their tops with more praline and pop them in the fridge to set for at least an hour, but they will probably need two.
Honeycomb ice cream
for the honeycomb
4oz/ 100g runny honey
140g pot of liquid glucose
4oz/ 100g caster sugar
2oz/ 50g soft brown (preferably light muscovado) sugar
5 tbsp water
4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the honey, glucose, sugars and water into a heavy based saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Increase the heat and boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (150C on a sugar thermometer) - it will be golden around the edges of the pan and if you drop a tiny bit of syrup in a glass of cold water it should immediately solidify into a ball. Quickly stir in the bicarb - be very careful as it will immediately erupt into a frothing, foaming mass. Ensuring you tip the honeycomb away from you as you do it, pour the mixture into your prepared tin. You can carefully move the tray back and forth to even it out but don't spread it with a palate knife or you'll lose the bubbly crunchiness. Leave to cool for at least an hour, before peeling it off the baking parchment and smashing it with a rolling pin.
for the ice cream
4 egg yolks
4oz/100g caster sugar
12 fl.oz/ 350 ml double cream
The seeds from a vanilla pod
Heat the cream and vanilla in a heavy based saucepan over a gentle heat until it begins to bubble at the edges. In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Tip the scalded cream on to the egg mixture and whisk together. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you can check by dunking a spoon into the custard and drawing a line with your finger on its back - if the line remains, the custard is done). Pour the custard into a cold jug and place a sheet of cling film over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool.
If you have an ice cream machine (don't forget to pre-freeze the bowl!) pour the custard into it and churn until almost firm. Reserving a little of the honeycomb for scattering later, chuck the rest in the machine until fully incorporated. Transfer your ice cream into tupperware and pop it back in the freezer. Take it out 5-10 minutes before serving so that it's soft enough to scoop out.
If you don't have an ice cream machine, stir the honeycomb (reserving enough for garnish) into the custard and pour into a wide tupperware box. Pop it in the freezer for about 4 hours, stirring every 20 - 30 minutes to prevent ice crystals forming.
To plate up, take the tarts out of their cases and place each on a small plate. Place a scoop of ice cream next to it and scatter the top with the leftover honeycomb.
|If, like me, you're serious about puddings, check out Sweets for a Saturday for more delicious dessert inspirations beginning with all letters of the alphabet!|