Archive for December, 2012

Have Yourself a Merry Little (alternative) Christmas (pudding)…

Here we go again – Christmas! Where on Earth has the past year gone, I’d like to know? With two weeks to go I’m reasonably relaxed – having got 75% of the shopping, cards and perpetrations done. I’ve even had a bit of time for baking and crafts 🙂

My group of friends and I always do a Christmas meal together, which is great fun – turkey, secret santa gifts – the lot! A couple of years I attempted to make Christmas Pudding; it would be fair to say that they were not my best puddings ever. And to be quite honest, who really wants a heavy, stodgy pudding at the end of a huge, stodgy meal? I am not the world’s biggest fan of Christmas Pudding – there are just so many lighter, tastier alternatives!

So this year I made two puddings – one moderately stodgy, and one quite light: a Mincemeat Frangipane Tart (by Mary Berry – or Merry Berry to give her her Christmas stripper name!) and a Brown Sugar Pavlova with Spiced Clementines and Pecan Brittle (from the Whitworths sugar website). The Frangipane tart was pretty straight forward – having made something similar before – but the Pavlova does require a bit of time and planning!

(The Frangipane tart was at least partially chosen because I had 1kg of mincemeat which I picked up for 10p from Sainsbury’s after last Christmas!)


Mincemeat Frangipane Tart

225g (8oz) plain flour, 100g (4oz) butter, cubed, 50g (2oz) caster sugar, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon water

Almond filling

175g (6oz) butter, 175g (6oz) caster sugar, 4 eggs, 175g (6oz) ground almonds, 1 teaspoon almond extract, generous half jar of mincemeat


75g (3oz) icing sugar, juice of ½ lemon, 50g (2oz) flaked almonds

1 Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5, and heat a heavy, flat baking tray.

2 First make the pastry, either by the usual rubbing-in method (by hand) or by doing the following: measure the flour and butter into a processor and process until rubbed in. Add the sugar and mix for a moment, then add the egg and water. Process until the mixture just holds together. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

3 Roll the pastry out on a floured surface and use to line a 28cm (11in) flan tin. Prick the base of the pastry using a fork. Chill pastry for 10 minutes. Line the pastry case with parchment paper and fill with ceramic baking beans. Place on a hot baking tray and bake blind for about 15 minutes until set and pale brown. Remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for about 10-12 minutes until the base is cooked.

4 Next make the filling – no need to wash up the processor. Process the butter and sugar until creamy, add the eggs and blend, then mix in the ground almonds and almond extract.

5 Spread a thin layer of mincemeat over the base of the pastry and spoon the almond mixture on top.

6 Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the filling is set.

7 Make a glacé icing from the icing sugar and lemon juice, adding a little water to make it a pouring consistency. Spread over the tart and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Return to the same temperature oven for about 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Sticky Pavlova with Spiced Clementines and Pecan Brittle


4 large egg whites
Pinch salt
1 heaped tsp corn flour
1  tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Spiced Clementines
For the syrup:
300ml water
100g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 star anise optional
8 clementines
Pecan Praline
200g pecan nuts
300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks



  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper. On the underside of the baking paper draw a circle approximately 15cm in diameter.
  3. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peak stage. Add the WHITWORTHS CASTER SUGARand WHITWORTHS LIGHT SOFT BROWN SUGAR a spoonful at a time, until fully combined and the meringue mixture is thick and glossy.
  4. Add the corn flour, vinegar and vanilla extract and fold through the meringue until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Spoon the meringue mixture onto the baking paper and using the circle as a guide; spread the mixture to fill the circle, smoothing the top.
  6. Place the Pavlova in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150C.
  7. Cook for 1 hour 30 mins. Turn the oven off and allow the Pavlova to cool with the oven door slightly open.

Spiced Clementines

  1. Pour the water and sugar into a large saucepan and heat gently to dissolve.
  2. Add the liqueur, cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise, boil for 5 or 10 minutes until it becomes thick and syrupy.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Peel the clementines and remove any white pith.
  4. Place the clementines in the warm syrup and leave to cool. Store in the fridge until they are ready to use.


  1. Place the WHITWORTHS CASTER SUGAR in a saucepan over a medium heat and allow the sugar to melt gently and cook for 3-4 until light golden in colour.
  2.  Add the pecan nuts and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Pour the mixture onto a lightly oiled baking tray, spread out and leave to cool.
  4. Once cooled and set, smash the praline into pieces.

To assemble

  1. Place the cooled Pavlova on a large serving plate, spoon over the lightly whipped cream.
  2. Remove the clemantines from the syrup and slice each one into 4 circles. Place the slices of clemantine on top of the cream.
  3. Drizzle over a little of the syrup and scatter over the praline pieces.
  4. Decorate as you wish with a stencil and WHITWORTHS TWIST & SPRINKLE ICING SUGAR.

Foodie Penpal: November 2012

Hello all!

Just a quick post detailing what my lovely Foodie Penpal, Julie, sent me for the last FPP package of the year 🙂



A great selection all round – sweet but healthy treats, spicy snacks and luxurious ingredients 🙂

If you’re interested in joining our little roaming band of food pioneers then I suggest you rock on over to and speak to the lovely Carol Ann Grady, our beloved Euro Foodie Penpals leader. If you are in the USA, then take a gander at – where it all started :-)

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