Friday, 8 April 2011

Sweet Sensation

"Drunken" Cherrys with Glazed Apples & Puff-Pastry

Look- I don't know how to make desserts. The thought scares me, ok? And this from a guy who enjoys watching The Exorcist. Not knowing what you are doing when it comes to desserts... means you are going to FAIL miserably. You are. They are too risky by far... you have to stick to recipes and measure and weigh things... That's not me!
But I don't want to end up embarrassing myself... so, of course, I cheat. Plain and simple!
And this is how...

There are some basics that we all have to learn when it comes to being successful in the kitchen. One of them is a secret which will help you to create perfect puff-pastry every time. Buy it pre-made. Seriously. No matter how honorable an endeavor it may be, the amount of work involved in making puff pastry is just... well... not worth it! Life is too short!

One tip though, is to make sure you use the sharpest knife you can find to cut your pastry. Using a blunt knife will squeeze the pastry together and not allow the air to flow out of the edges... meaning it will not "puff" properly. That was the only work involved on my part!

The rest is a simple, but clever idea... I cut the pastry into squares, but instead of baking them on a regular tray, I bake them on a grill pan... this gives the pastry squares a nice riffled pattern and an extra bit of crunch. As usual, I skimp on greasing the pan, knowing that there is more than enough butter in the pastry itself that it won't stick. I bake the squares for 10 minutes at high heat and then flip them over once using some tongs. You need to be careful, as the pastry is still soft... but if I managed it then you can too! Give them another 5-10 minutes until they are nicely browned- this will depend on your oven.

Whilst this is going on, you can prepare the cherries. These came out of a jar- and for this kind of dessert, I would recommend you do the same. Fresh cherries need to be washed and stoned (without being destroyed in the process), they may turn out to be very tart or even sour... and again... life IS too short!

In a small saucepan, heat a pat of butter and add some finely chopped rosemary and a little grated ginger. Then add the cherries and a good shot of Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Once the aromas have combined nicely, you can create a little syrup, by adding some orange juice and honey. If the syrup needs thickening, just do what your mom would have done and stir a little flour and water together. So much for the cherries.

Take your pastry squares out of the oven and let them cool. After about 10 minutes they will be super-crispy and flaky and delicious. I didn't bother with an egg glaze either as I am going to decorate them with powdered sugar later.

Now the apple slices. Melt a little butter in a frying pan and add some ground coriander and pepper... when the butter starts to froth up, add the apple slices and make sure they get nicely covered. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar and grate a little fresh nutmeg onto them.

You can see two serving suggestions in my photos, although I am sure there are many ways to put this combination together. Some fresh rosemary gives a nice visual kick as well as an extra bit of freshness- and a little vanilla custard goes very well with this too. I actually used a creamy vanilla yogurt in the version served up in the martini glass.

Now, what was it I was saying about desserts?

Oh, right...
Desserts are easy!

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