Had your fill of the shops? Then why not give a home-made foodie gift instead – and earn extra brownie points for thoughtfulness. These recipes, especially for Journal readers, come courtesy of Terry Laybourne's Café 21 pastry chefs. KATHARINE CAPOCCI reports
A HOME-MADE foodie gift makes a thoughtful and personal present idea – and these tasty offerings from the top pastry chefs at Terry Laybourne’s Café 21 in Newcastle are sure to be appreciated by the lucky recipient.
So if you’re completely stressed-out with Christmas shopping and battling the crowds, then reach for your pinny and expend your time and energy instead on these delicious recipes.
They come courtesy of dynamic sweets duo Clare Armstrong, executive pastry chef at the 21 Hospitality Group, and Helen Doyle, pastry chef at Café 21.
Clare, 39, has worked for 12 years for critically acclaimed chef- restaurateur Terry Laybourne, who has five restaurants in the North East, and Helen, 29, has worked at Café 21 for five years.
Clare and Helen make the full range of pastry products from chocolates to cakes and traditional puddings.
At the moment they are selling an array of Christmas gifts from traditional chocolate logs to chocolate and sea salt caramel tarts and Christmas puddings, florentines and gingerbread houses.
Festive treats on the dessert menu at Café 21, near Newcastle Quayside, currently include Mont Blanc and Buche de Noel puds.
The former is an Italian dessert which resembles the snow-capped mountains. The Café 21 version has a chocolate and rum mousse base with meringue and a chestnut cream plus a scoop of mandarin sorbet and drizzle of hot chocolate sauce.
Clare says: “The food gifts are ideal for Christmas and they are fairly easy to make at home. It’s such a personal touch to give someone a gift that you have made yourself and it means you don’t have to trail around the shops.
“Some of the recipes do take a little longer than others, the chutney for example, needs stirring occasionally for two to three hours, but that’s two to three hours that can be spent at home relaxing or preparing your home for the Christmas festivities.”
BUCHE DE NOEL
THIS is traditionally made with candied chestnuts. If you prefer you can simply substitute these for the brandied cherries. It is made over two days.
800g good quality dark chocolate, (60%-plus cocoa solids)
500ml whipping cream, chilled
200ml double cream, chilled
1 chocolate sponge; 260mm x 140mm x 3mm thick (the sponge is just a thin layer to add texture)
300g brandied cherries, roughly chopped
1tbsp icing sugar
TIP: Line a lightly greased 1ltr gutter mould (255mm X 80mm) with a double thickness of cling film.
Melt 500g of the chocolate over a bain marie and whisk the whipping cream to soft peaks.
Fold whipping cream into the melted chocolate.
Spoon half of the mixture into the prepared mould.
Cut the sponge into two rectangles, one of 250mm x 40mm and one of 250mm x 80mm.
Place the smaller rectangle into the mould and press gently into the mousse.
Brush with the syrup from the brandied cherries. Scatter the chopped brandied cherries.
Add the remaining chocolate mousse.
Finish with the second sponge rectangle, pressing down gently to expel any air, cover with cling film and freeze overnight.
Next day, bring the double cream to a boil and pour on to 200g chocolate.
Leave to stand for three minutes then whisk until smooth.
Unmould the log on to a cooling wire then ladle the warm glaze over. Transfer to the fridge until needed.
Melt remaining chocolate, spoon on to a piece of marble and spread thinly with palette knife.
Allow to cool until it begins to firm then create a ruffle using a pastry scraper.
Garnish the log with a chocolate ruffle and a dusting of icing sugar.
Cut into 12mm thick slices and serve with a little whipped cream.