The idea is to pick a book that you think most represents tea time treats and then pick a random recipe from it. Following Dom's lead, I took the two baking books that had British in the title from my bookshelves: British Baking by Petyon and Byrne and The Great British Bake Off by Linda Collister. CT did his usual trick and randomly selected one of them. GBBO it happened to be and page 189 was the number he picked, giving me Fennel and Ginger Chocolate Tarts. I was intrigued by the idea of incorporating fennel and slightly concerned it might overpower the tarts, but very willing to give it a try. The pastry part of it, I was less thrilled about: I have yet to grow into enjoying pastry making.
This is how I made them:
- Weighed 30g spelt flour and 150g plain white and poured into a bowl.
- Threw in 100g of cold unsalted butter and cut it into small pieces with a knife (the book said to cut into pea size peices with two knives, but I didn't understand what was meant by this and also didn't have the patience to cut it quite that small).
- Rubbed butter and flour between my fingers until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
- Added an egg yolk and 1 1/2 tbsp cold water.
- Stirred this in with the knife, then brought the mixture together with my hands to form a ball.
- Placed this in the fridge for 1/2 an hour.
- Rolled the pastry out to about 2 mm and cut into rounds to fill four 9 cm tart tins and 4 foil cases of varied size (eight 9 cm tart tins would probably be just right).
- Pricked the bottoms with a fork and baked at 180C for 10 minutes.
- Ground a pinch of fennel seeds with a pestle & mortar (the recipe said to put them in whole, but ours were home grown and rather large and I preferred the idea of having them ground).
- Chopped 20g crystallised ginger into slithers.
- Melted 100g unsalted butter with 100g soft brown sugar.
- Simmered for 3 minutes then added 100g double cream.
- Continued to simmer for a further 4 minutes.
- Added 100g broken dark chocolate (G&B 85%) and stirred until smooth.
- Stirred in the fennel and ginger.
- Poured the ganache into the pastry cases and left to set.
- Served with raspberries.
These proved to be very popular with CT, who claimed they were the best thing I'd made in a while, not he hastened to add, that he hadn't enjoyed everything else. I was particularly pleased with the pastry cases, which were firm and crisp without being hard or solid. Having no added sugar, they were a good foil to the sweet fudgy filling, which really was rather mouth-watering. The filling was easy to make and set to a nice firm yet smooth and soft consistency. Thankfully, the fennel was subtle but still discernible against the warmth of the ginger and the two flavours came together gave an interesting but welcome synergy.