Chocolate Speculoos Tart

(Chocolate speculoos tart)

Ever since we moved into an apartment together and I insisted on buying the smallest fridge-freezer in the entire kitchen appliance store as some sort of bizarre money-saving measure, I’ve been regretting winning the argument. (I’m convinced there’s a future blog post just waiting to be written on the subject of the strange arguments he lets me win, even when he knows I’m wrong).

Turns out, there’s no such thing as a fridge or freezer that’s too big. Not when you can stuff it with leftover bits of pastry, excess cookie dough and more than one flavour of ice-cream. Or perhaps it’s a mixed blessing that I had to evict an unbaked tart case from the freezer the other day, to make room for a bag of green chillies and a few wilting stalks of lemongrass.

Our fast and easy dessert that evening was this tart, filled with a mixture of pantry ingredients. Speculoos is one of my favourite cookies that I put in almost anything I can get away with. If you don’t have any, try the same recipe with gingersnaps or chocolate cookies. I’m thinking a Tim Tam version of this tart might have to be the next thing I tackle on my to-bake list.

Now if only there was another spare tart case in the freezer that needed to be used..

Chocolate Speculoos Tart :

125g butter
100g rapadura sugar or natural cane sugar
2 medium eggs
20g cocoa powder
125g speculoos, crushed or blitzed in the food processor
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
75g dark chocolate chips

1 x 23cm tart tin lined with sweet shortcrust pastry, unbaked

Preheat the oven to 170’C.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Fold in the speculoos crumbs, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt, followed by the chocolate chips. Spread the mixture evenly on top of the shortcrust pastry. Bake for about 30 minutes until the pastry is golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack before removing the tart from the tin. Serve warm or at room temperature with cinnamon whipped cream, sweetened yogurt or vanilla ice-cream.

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Lemon speculoos ice-cream, ale poached peaches

(Lemon speculoos ice-cream)

There were some days last week when I would wake up and feel relieved that yesterday was over. It was hard not to feel a bit mopey since the boy had been away for so long. One upside was that it gave me plenty of time to tick things off my to-do list, and subsequently to come up with a few new and silly ones.

Like my Top 5 desert island ice-creams list, which after much consideration reads as follows. In no particular order :

1) Rum ‘n’ Raisin
(A inexplicable regular feature of any of my imaginary ice-cream lists. Maybe I was abducted by pirates as a child.)

2) Bitter chocolate
(Good chocolate ice-cream is a miracle in itself.)

3) Beer sorbet
(Because after an exhausting day trying to get rescued from a deserted island, everyone deserves an ice cold refreshing beer.)

4) Raspberry vanilla ripple
(I’m obsessed with things that ripple and swirl. Also, it’s almost like cheating and having two flavours in one. One bite and it’s vanilla! Now it’s raspberry!)

5) David Lebovitz’s lemon speculoos ice-cream
(I never was a fan of cookies ‘n’ cream ice-creams, but this I could definitely get behind.)

To the uninitiated, speculoos is a spiced cookie. It is truly wonderful folded through ice-cream, or even eaten on its own. I had to make two batches of speculoos for this recipe because I accidentally ate all of the first batch! You can find the recipes in David Lebovitz’s book.

To accompany the ice-cream, I poached some peaches in ale, after buying a bag of peaches at the market. If you can’t get peaches, try preserved cherries, but really, the ice-cream is already spectacular on its own. Amazing what a little refrigeration can do for you on a desert island. Or would that be dessert island?

Ale poached peaches :

4 ripe yellow peaches, blanched, refreshed and peeled
1 x 330ml bottle pale ale
750ml (3 cups) water
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves
1 long pepper, crushed

In a pot, bring the ale, water, sugar and spices to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste the liquid and add more sugar if you wish. I prefer mine to be less sweet. Lower the peaches into the liquid and simmer until just tender. This should take no more than 5-10 minutes. Remove the peaches and reduce the poaching liquid to a light syrup. Cool, then pour the syrup over the peaches and keep chilled until you’re ready to use.

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