Wednesday 29 October 2014

Tarts or balls? A tale of two recipes

So, Adrian is off on his travels again (Belgium, Prague, London, St Albans), leaving James and I to our own devices.  This has, so far, involved finishing off The Walking Dead (we have agreed that maybe we need some lighter viewing having fought our blood-splattered way through a whole series in a few days) and eating Pecan and Chocolate tart. 
James made the latter as the last hurrah for his Duke of Edinburgh award and it is disgracefully good.  Okay, so the shop didn’t have pecans so he made do with walnuts and mixed chopped nuts but still…
Oh. You want the recipe?  Fair enough.   Here goes…

Pecan(ish) and Chocolate Tart

Rub together 120g chilled cubed butter with 165g plain flour and 25g ground almonds.  Stir in 55g castor sugar and then break a medium egg into the mix.  Work gently into a soft dough and tip onto a lightly floured surface and flatten (my grandmother would, of course, have washed her hands in cold water first, and used a slab of marble to keep it all cold).  Wrap in cling film and chill for three hours. 
Roll out pasty to about 3mm and line a greased 25cm tart tin.  Back into the fridge with the little bugger.  And we wonder why we all buy ready-made pastry?  

Now melt 80g dark chocolate and 45g of cubed butter in a bain marie (you know, a bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water).  In a separate saucepan combine 160g of granulated sugar and 235ml of golden syrup – stir like fury so it doesn’t catch until it is all melted.  Beat together three medium eggs and whisk into the chocolate/butter mixture until smooth.  Now fold in the hot syrup mixture, whisking all the while.

Add in a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 235g of nuts (ideally pecans but your choice – I’d probably eschew the mixed nuts but the walnuts are damn fine). 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and put baking tray in for about five minutes to get hot.  Now place pastry case on the baking tray and pour over the nut and goo filling.  Bake for about 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is set.  Cool and eat.

Now then.  Yes, it tastes delicious but, for the love of all that’s sacred, will you just LOOK at those ingredients.  It’s sugar on sugar on sugar.  The nuts are a saving grace (the protein will slow down the sugar rush) but even so…  It has made my teeth sing and my pulse race and I've got the start of a killer headache.  

So, let’s find an alternative.  Something that is still really yummy but will actually help your body rather than sledgehammer it.  So I asked Gertrud for the recipe for the energy powerballs she serves as snacks at Yobaba Lounge (report coming soon on Queen of Retreats) and here it is…

Gertrud’s recipe for peanut butter, banana and honey powerballs

1 cup ground almonds
1 cup ground walnuts or hazelnuts
2 heaped tblsp crunchy plain peanut butter
1 heaped tblsp creamy honey (ideally not runny)
2 dried bananas, finely chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
Juice of half a small lemon
zest of half an orange (optional)
1/2 tblsp coconut oil (optional)
Sesame seeds

Mix together all of the ingredients (apart from the sesame seeds).  Don't be shy, get in there with your hands. Make sure the honey, peanut butter and coconut oil are well mixed in. The mixture should not be too wet or sticky, but hold together when you press it into form.  If it's too wet, just add ground almonds.  Form into balls (should get 20-30), roll in the sesame seeds. Put in the fridge for half an hour.

Inspiration: Instead of the 1 cup of ground walnuts or hazelnuts, you can add a mixture of milled seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed). To mill the seeds, add them to your high speed blender, and shortly blast them at top speed. You can do the same with nuts if you don't have any ground. Add other dried fruits and flavours - Morello cherries with raw cacao works a treat!

So, there you have it.  Tart or ball?  Up to you.  Because there are always choices in life, huh? 


Voodoo Spice said...

Reading the recipe for bananaballs :D (just when you thought it couldn't be harder to know when to stop writing the word 'banananana') I noticed something in it you could try including in your chocolate-pecan sugar-bomb - cinnamon. I recalled reading that it helps maintain control of blood sugar, and since using it in virtually everything it's turned me into one of the sanest people I know regarding my self-control around food - scary thought. Wondering if I'd made the whole thing up, I googled it just now and found a more recent article - - I'm not diabetic and I think I originally read about it in some advice on dieting. I don't think I would take it as a supplement as it's cheap and I like chucking a sprinkling of it into anything I'm making, from fruit smoothies to choc chip cupcakes to bolognese to curry - it seems to complement everything. And I think it helps me to know when I'm full :) Lisa xxx

Frances said...

Jane, congrats to James for his baking expertise!

Each of these recipes look to be very good. I definitely prefer pecans to walnuts (maybe because of my Southern roots, although walnut trees do also grow in the South.)

And yes, that is a lot of sugar. I guess it's not really mandatory to eat the entire pie, though difficult to resist the temptation. xo

Exmoorjane said...

@Lisa - yup, I remember reading that cinnamon was good for diabetes...didn't know about the weight loss effect though. Good tip, thanks! However, I'll pass - I don't mind cinnamon in savoury stuff (curries and chillis and wotnot) but can't abide it in sweet stuff. Bleeaugh. :) xxxx

@Frances - he is pretty good, has to be said. Pecans are relatively new in the UK - we definitely didn't have them when I was growing up. :)
And no, you're quite right - not remotely mandatory - but somehow we managed it (in under 24 hours). :) xx

Ashen said...

I like the powerballd, simple, and no flower :) Copied the recipe and will test it before I shoot the balls at a gathering of friends coming up.