Monday, 1 February 2010

Burns Night Supper




I love a theme to work with. Thinking of delicious components and finding a way of marrying them together is my idea of fun. Some people like to climb big rocks or jump out of planes, I like to play with my food. There really is no accounting for taste.

We had a Burns Night dinner party on the 25th and went to town with all things Scottish, quaffing Crabbie's green ginger wine, Innes and Gunn beer and whisky by the bucketload. There were the toasts, the speeches, the drinking of whisky, the Burns poetry recitals, the haggis, the neeps, the tatties and the drinking of more whisky. And it was down to me to create a Scottish pudding fit for the occasion. Hello theme!

Firstly, came the trawling through historical recipe books to uncover some half-forgotten, precious Scottish gem of a cake as a starting point for inspiration. I must admit, although I hadn't heard of all I found, so many contained dried fruit that needed a decent maturation time that I decided to abandon the old cookbooks altogether and start thinking modern instead. So, Scottish things, Scottish things: whisky (obviously), green ginger wine, drambuie, whisky macs. And now for something a bit more solid: porridge, shortbread, cranachan, tipsy laird, battered mars bars, Scottish heather honey, tartan and, er, the Loch Ness monster? Initially, I had thoughts of a cranachan ice-cream in a tartan chocolate cone with a vertical slice of battered mars bar - the batter being made partly with cocoa powder so it would end up brown and look like a flake, thus creating a Scottish 99. But, I went off this idea quickly because, well, where's the CAKE?

I opted for a Drambuie chocolate cake, layered with Drambuie chocolate ganache, with a shortbread base, and decided the outer shell should be chocolate tartan (I won't go into the hows now, that's another blog in itself) for an extra dollop of Scottishness. I decided that individual chocolate pots would be cuter, so I built the cakes up in individual moulds: shortbread, ganache, cake, ganache, cake, ganache, cake, ganache, a raspberry. I considered sticking to the cranachan ice-cream (possibly complete with a chocolate battered mars "flake") and this obviously led all thoughts to jelly. I knew it would have to contain green ginger wine, for the colour alone if nothing else, but after some experimentation, realised that a drop of whisky didn't affect the colour much, so whisky mac jellies (heavier on the green ginger wine than the whisky to keep the colour pure) were born. In the end, I didn't have time, what with work and life, to make the cranachan into ice-cream, so I left it unfrozen and served it in custard pots, but if Burns Night suppers become an annual event at our's, maybe next year...

 Shortbread
Preheat the oven to 150 C (130 C Fan)

Ingredients
  • 6 oz/ 150 g softened unsalted butter.
  • 6 oz/ 150 g plain flour.
  • 3 oz/ 75 g caster  sugar.
  • A splash of vanilla extract.
Method
  • Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together with clean hands until thoroughly combined and you can form a dough.
  • Take a ball of dough and press down until about 2cm thick, cut out a circle using a round pastry cutter that is about half a cm smaller than the moulds you will be using for your cakes.
  • Place the shortbread on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and pop in the oven for about ten minutes.
  • If the shortbread has spread while in the oven just re-cut with the pastry cutters while the shortbread is still hot.
  • Leave to cool on wire rack.
Chocolate and Drambuie Cake

Ingredients
  • 8 oz/ 200 g good quality dark chocolate.
  • 4 tbsp milk.
  • 5 oz/ 125g soft unsalted butter.
  • 3 eggs.
  • 5 oz/ 125 g caster sugar.
  • 5 oz/ 125 g plain flour, sifted.
  • An exta 1 oz/ 25 g of caster sugar.
  • 50 ml Drambuie.
Method
Preheat the oven to 180 C (160 C Fan) and grease and line a roulade tin.
  • Separate the eggs.
  • Break up the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl with the milk and butter and suspend over a saucepan of barely simmering water, until the chocolate mixture has completely melted.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into a mixing bowl and leave to cool slightly.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy.
  • Immediately add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate and stir briskly.
  • Fold the flour into the mixture.
  • In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and fold into the cake batter.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared tin, level out and place in the oven for about ten minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • In a small saucepan place 1 oz/ 25 g caster sugar in a saucepan with 50ml of Drambuie and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Stab the cake all over with a cake tester or skewer and brush the Drambuie syrup over the cake with a pastry brush.
  • Leave the cake in its tin on a wire rack to cool.
Drambuie chocolate ganache

Ingredients
  • 450 ml double cream.
  • 10 oz/ 250 g good quality dark chocolate.
  • 3 oz/ 75 g softened butter.
  • 50 ml Drambuie.
  • Icing sugar, sifted, to taste.
Method
  • Grate or finely chop the chocolate.
  • Place the cream in a heavy based saucepan and bring to just boiling point and remove from the heat.
  • Add the chocolate to the cream and stir. 
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes or until the chocolate has completely melted and stir again until the mixture is smooth, thick and glossy.
  • Add the butter and beat in.
  • Stir in the Drambuie. It will go quite runny at this point.
  • Add as much or as little icing sugar as you feel it needs. I tend to be quite frugal as I don't like things to be too sweet.
  • Once cool, place in the fridge to set for about 45 minutes.
  • Beat the mixture again and place in a large piping bag fitted with a plain no. 10 nozzle.
Whisky Mac Jelly

Ingredients
  • 4 sheets of leaf gelatine.
  • 200ml Crabbies green ginger wine.
  • 50ml whisky.
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar. 
Method
  • Mix the whisky and green ginger wine together.
  • Cut the leaf gelatine into pieces, place in a heatproof bowl and soak in about a third of the whisky mac liquid for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the sugar to the gelatine and place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until the sugar and gelatine have dissolved.
  • Add the remaining liquid, stir and pour into a flexible ice cube tray and place in the fridge to set for about an hour and a half.
Cranachan

Ingredients
  • 3 oz/ 75g porridge oats.
  • 6 oz/ 150g raspberries, washed.
  • 7 tbs whisky.
  • 2 tbsp light muscovado sugar.
  • 4 tbps of runny Scottish heather honey.
  • 600ml large pot of double cream.
Method
  • Soak 4 oz/ 100 g of the raspberries in 1 tbsp of whisky and 1 tbsp of warmed honey.
  • Place the oats on a baking tray and toast in a low oven or under the grill until golden brown. It doesn't take long at all, so keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning.
  • In a small saucepan, place 2 tbsp whisky and the sugar and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved and then increase the heat slightly and reduce the liquid into a caramel.
  • Toss the toasted oats in the caramel and pour out on to the baking tray and leave to cool.
  • Mash 2 oz/ 50 g of the raspberries with a fork until throughly blended and smooth. You can do this in a blender if you'd rather.
  • Whisk the cream until quite stiff.
  • Add the remaining honey and whisky and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Add 2 oz/ 50 g of the caramelised oats and the blended raspberries to the cream and ripple through.
  • Gently fold in the remaining soaked raspberries.
  • Save the remaining oats and the left over raspberries for plating up later.
Chocolate Pot building:
I made my chocolate pots tartan, but it's faffy and takes a fair amount of skill to achieve, so I'll leave that step out for now, but I may well post a blog about how to do that and similar another time.

  • Prepare your dessert moulds by cutting a piece of baking parchment that will just line the inside. You can make the parchment stick with a quick rub of butter round the inside of the mould before you place the parchment inside. Place each mould on a separate mini cake board.
  • Place a shortbread at the bottom of each mould, followed by a squirt of ganache.
  • Using the same pastry cutter that you used for your shortbread, cut a circle of cake and place it on top of the ganache. Push the cake down slightly and you can brush it again with Drambuie syrup if there's any left and feel inclined to.
  • Pipe on some more ganache and then repeat the process twice.
  • Top the final piece of cake with ganache and smooth the top with a palate knife.
  • Place in the fridge to set.
  • Once ready to de-mould, remove from the fridge and, using a blow torch or a hairdryer on a low setting, gently heat the outside of the mould so that you can slip the cake out of the mould.

 Plating up
  • Place your chocolate pot on your serving plate (leaving room for everything else).
  • Place your cranachan in custard pots and top with a scattering of your left over oats and raspberries and put it next to your chocolate pot on the plate.
  • Remove the jelly from the ice cube tray (if it's stuck, place the tray in a shallow dish of hot water for a few seconds and dry the bottom before upturning the tray again.
  • Slice the cubes into thinner squares and place a few on the plate next to your cake and cranachan and your pudding is ready to serve.

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