There is nothing as perfect as finishing off a meal with friends or family with a scrumptious desert, though many desert recipes are far too complicated and involve far too much time in the kitchen. Here are two desert recipes that are not only delicious, they are simple to prepare. You can do most of the preparation in advance allowing you more time to spend with your guests. The first of these is an excellent tiramisu and the second is everybody’s favourite, an apple and vanilla tart. Making confectionery at home isn’t as hard as it sounds with the right ingredients. CotswoldFayre have a great selection of ingredients no matter how creative you want to get, but they deal in wholesale.
Tiramisu is an Italian desert that almost begs to be eaten; in fact the word tiramisu is Italian for pick me up. It is said that the dish was first created in honour of Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, during the seventeenth century, which is a little snippet of information to entertain your guests.
You will need a medium sized tub (about 500g) of double cream, a small tub (around 250g) of mascarpone cheese; a packet of sponge fingers; about 5 tablespoons of golden castor sugar; two teaspoonfuls of cocoa powder; a bar (about 25 g) of dark chocolate (around 70%);a cup of strong coffee (filtered or instant, though filtered is best); and a glass of Marsala (you can just buy a miniature bottle if you wish).
1) Blend together the Marsala, the cream, the mascarpone, and the sugar.
2) Dip half the sponge fingers in the coffee so that they are coated but not too much; you don’t want them to go soggy. After you have dipped each one place it in a shallow dish to form a single layer.
3) Spoon over about half of the blended ingredients.
4) Using a coarse grater, grate about three quarters of the chocolate evenly over the top.
5) Dip the rest of the sponge fingers in the coffee and use these to build a second layer.
6) Spoon the remainder of the blended ingredients over the top, and leave the dish in the fridge until just before you want to serve it.
7) Remove from the fridge, dust with the cocoa powder, grate the rest of the chocolate on top, and serve.
Apple and Vanilla Tart
Apple tarts and apple pies are nearly as old as the hills. The oldest known apple tart recipe “Tartys in Applis” dates back to the fourteenth century, though our recipe is a more modern take on this traditional desert.
The secret of an excellent apple tart lies in the apples that you use. You don’t want apples that are two sweet or those that become mushy when cooked. You need an apple that remains firm and keeps its favour, which should be slightly tart. Tastes vary, but some of the best are Arthur Turner; Blenheim Orange; Bramley Seedling; Charles Ross; Grenadier; along with the more common Elstar; Cox’s and Russets
You will need: 5 large apples of one of the varieties listed above; a packet of puff pastry (alternatively you could make your own, but nowadays pre-made pastry is excellent), a squozen lemon, about 25 g of butter diced; a tablespoon of caster sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract; three tablespoons of apricot conserve.
1) Roll the pastry out and trim into a circle with a diameter of about 35 cm and place it on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper
2) Core the apples and peel them then slice them thinly. Put them in a bowl and toss them in the lemon juice
3) Spread the apples over the pastry leaving a rim of around 2 cm which should be turned up
4) Sprinkle the top with the diced butter, sprinkle with the vanilla, and finaly with the caster sugar.
5) Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220 C (fan 200 C) for about 20 minutes.
6) Serve with vanilla ice cream, double or clotted cream or crème fraîche – totally scrumptious.