Monday, August 5, 2013

Freshly Blogged: Challenge 5

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Dessert is the grand-finale of a meal. It needs to be something special & beautiful. With this Amarula Cream inspired recipe, I wanted to create something with loads of different textures and layers of flavours – that also looks beautiful on a plate. From the sweet caramel cup to the subtle poached pear and the creamy Amarula custard to the crunchy chocolate nut gravel, I think this dessert hits all the spots.

Amarula custard caramel cups with dark chocolate & sugared almond gravel and Amarula poached pears
Serves 4

You will need
For the caramel cups:
½ cup castor sugar
4 Silicone cup cake molds

For the poached pears:
4 very small pears (about 7cm high, if not, cut larger pears to size)
½ cup Amarula Cream
1 cup low fat milk
1 Tbls castor sugar

For the gravel:
8 cream crackers
Half a slab (45 – 50g) Bourneville dark chocolate
½ Cup blanched almonds, chopped into tiny pieces
1 ½ Tbls castor sugar

For the custard:
1 cup Amarula Cream
1 cup milk
1 Vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
1 Tbls Cornflour
1/3 cup castor sugar

How to make it
For the caramel cups:
Melt the sugar over a gentle heat until liquid – keep an eye on it, it burns easily.
Carefully pour the liquid sugar into one cupcake mold at a time.
Swizzle it around  to cover the sides equally. Repeat with all four.
Set aside to cool and harden.

For the poached pears:
Peel the pears and slice off their rounded bottoms so that they stand upright.
Bring the Amarula, milk and sugar to a simmer.
Lower the heat and poach the pears until soft - about 10minutes.
Remove from heat and allow the pears to soak and cool in the liquid for at least 20 minutes.
Drain just before serving otherwise the pears will brown.

For the gravel:
In a food processor, finely chop the cream crackers – almost to a powder.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate over a bain-marie.
Pour the melted chocolate into the cracker crumbs and blitz the food processor until well combined.
Set aside to cool and become crunchy.
Spread the finely chopped almonds over a baking tray and sprinkle with the castor sugar.
Toast the nuts under a hot grill in the oven until they are golden.
*Keep a close eye on the nuts, they can burn easily.

For the custard:
In a small saucepan, combine the Amarula and milk. Cut the vanilla pod in half (lengthways) and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to the Amarula mixture. Set aside.
Combine the egg yolks, castor sugar and cornflour in a medium saucepan. Beat well (use an electric whisk if you can.) Set aside.
Heat the Amarula mixture over a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. *Don’t allow it to boil. Remove the vanilla pod.
Slowly pour the hot Amarula mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until well combined.
Return to the heat and cook the custard for 10 – 15 minutes over a low heat, stirring in a figure of eight constantly.
Once the custard coats the back of a spoon it’s ready.
Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Create a little mound with the chocolate gravel.
Sprinkle the sugared almonds over the gravel and over more of the plate.
Place the poached pear on top of the gravel mound.
On the opposite side of the plate, place the caramel cup.
Fill the cup with Amarula custard and serve immediately.

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