Ask any good double act and they’ll tell you that the secret to their success lies in the blending of opposites; a subtle mix that both elevates and tames their individual traits that on their own can be, well, just that little bit too much. For me, a rich, velvety custard tart needs a serious side of tang to cut the creaminess down to size, and this rhubarb compote has that in spades. On top of the rhubarb’s natural sharpness, the pink peppercorns give a hint of smoky warmth as well as adding to the Pretty in Pink vibe – always a good thing in my book.
As a citrus fiend, I’m never happier than when I can turn something inherently sweet just that little bit sour, and I’ve found that when you want citrus to take centre stage don’t mess about, you need a diva; step forward the pink grapefruit. Ridiculously beautiful, pale pink segments, fragrant tropically-tinted zest and a juice that while sharp, has non of the bitterness of lemons or limes, she’s the complete package in my book – and so this zingy take on the classic Bakewell slice is my ode to her. If you need any more convincing of the pink grapefruit’s fabulousness, it translates into French as la pamplemousse rose, chic, non?
This delicate little tower of puff pastry represents the meeting of two very different, very beautiful things – French ostentation and crisp English cool – and it’s all thanks to gin. With a juniper-infused pastry cream and lemon slices candied in Tanqueray, this mille-feuille recipe has a lightness and subtlety to it that I love. It’s a taste of France, laced with an English summer’s night, which is pretty much my idea of heaven.
Apparently, there are those that walk among us who don’t like mince pies. I know, Kanye cray, right? I love them, they are Christmas as far as I’m concerned – fruity, fragrant, flaky little friends that turn up every December, spreading festive cheer. That said, on top of my usual batch this year, I thought I’d try something altogether more French in an attempt to convert the haters. Inspired by a mince pie truffle that I devoured the other week, my chocolate mince pies are made with an orange sweet pastry, a traditional mincemeat filling and topped with swirls of milk chocolate ganache. Ooh la la!
For those of you looking to French-up your Christmas baking this year, why not give these beauties a go? Not only do they taste great, and look fantastic piled high on a cake stand, but they also give you the chance to utter the words,”chouquette anyone?” which may just be the chicest thing you can say at a Christmas party. Rolled in spiced candied peel and dried cranberries, these little choux pastry bites are beautiful, simple to make and ridiculously moreish. I wrote the recipe for the www.allaboutyou.com so to grab it simply click here. You might also like my cranberry and cheese party bites or maybe the Christmas puff pastry twists too, hooray for Christmas pastries!
Autumn took its time arriving this year, all the more reason to celebrate with a piece of pie. This pie. There’s no such thing as pies at Le Cordon Bleu, we only do tarts. Beautiful tarts, with audacious names and countless layers of finesse; and I love them, I do. But for those chilly, Autumn nights spent on the sofa catching up on Breaking Bad, the comfort of pie wins out. So this pie is two things – an homage to Autumn and a collision of comfort and elegance, bringing together the nutty, caramel cuddle of pecan pie, with spiced poached pear and buttery, puff pastry.
She’s a bit of a stunner right? She knows it too. Of course, it would be impossible for a chocolate tart to ever look anything other than glorious, but this lady right here, what can I say, she knows that a smattering of pink and green goes a long way. Like all truly great accessories those freeze-dried raspberries and shards of pistachio are not just for aesthetics, both add texture to the gooey ganache filling and the raspberries help to cut through the chocolatey richness too.