This is the recipe I’d chosen for my first attempt at the Irish Foodies Cookalong on Friday that took ‘Food for Romance’ as its theme.
Not necessarily a combination of ingredients you’d imagine in terms of romance, but I knew the moment I saw the title for this recipe in Rachel Allen's cookbook that it would press all of Mr G’s buttons. Usually a savoury man, and the spicier the better, if there was any combination of dessert ingredients guaranteed to make Mr G melt it would be maple syrup and nuts.
However, my attempts to join all the fun seemed destined to fail from the beginning.
First of all I was out for hours on cookalong day – from Cuffesgrange to Kilkenny to Carlow – I seemed to have an endless shopping list, finally arriving home with a thumping headache, wanting nothing more than to put up my feet and drink tea. However, determined to cook now that I had the ingredients (one of my stop offs was at the fabulous Shortis Wong’s in Kilkenny to pick up the pecans), after a lovely supper cooked by Mr G, I put on my apron and turned on the oven.
I started routing around in the baking cupboard for the suggested loose bottomed tart tin, and after emptying it twice, had to give up - it couldn’t be found anywhere. No problem thinks I, I’ll make it in a heart shaped tin – perfect for the Romance element – and pray that it will come out in one piece.
Then I checked into the Facebook page and it seemed that everyone was making two dishes – a starter or an elaborate main, or a main and a dessert. Flick to Twitter – what’s everyone doing there – oh no, they all seemed to have phones that sent pictures straight to Twitter… still haven’t figured out how to do that.
Not one to be thwarted, I kept going and made the sweet pastry, placing it in the freezer to chill quickly. So far so good, cookalong or not Mr G was now looking forward to his treat.
“Meanwhile (while the pastry is cooking), make the rest of the filling. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil”. Maple syrup, sugar, butter, pecans and cream. CREAM?????
I thought that was just to add as a dollop on the side, not to make the toffee sauce. And there was I being ‘good’ not buying it (did you notice the ingredients list?)
Well. That was it. Had to throw in the towel as there’s only so much a gal will do for romance and driving 10 miles for cream after a day like I’d had weren’t going to be it. Where’s the wine?
Fortunately another paragraph in the book said the magic words “chill the pastry in the fridge for another 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10 minutes – it can be kept for weeks like this in the freezer).”
I like Rachel Allen – she seems to know just what to say AND she has pretty ribbon bookmarks in her books.
So that’s where my tart stayed - in the second drawer of the freezer until today when I picked up a small pot of cream from our local XL Shop and finished it off. Too late for the cookalong but it did put a huge smile on the children’s faces “mum, this is the tastiest thing you’ve ever cooked” – and as for himself? Well that would be telling now.
(for the sweet pastry)
200g plain sifted flour
100g chilled butter, cubed
1 tbsp. icing sugar, sifted
½ to 1 egg, beaten
For the filling
275g shelled pecans, coarsely chopped saving 3 whole nuts for decorating
250 ml maple syrup
75g light soft brown sugar
75ml double or regular cream
First of all I made the pastry by putting all of the dry pastry ingredients in the food processor and whizzing until the butter was in small lumps, before adding half the beaten egg and whizzing a bit more. When the mixture looked like it would all come together I emptied it into a bowl and quickly finished making the dough in my hands. I then rolled it out and wrapped it in cling film and put it in the fridge for half an hour.