Like little jars of spice. The reason being, that they are used in small quantities, and they lose strength/flavour over time. It’s about now that home cooks are looking for cloves, cinnamon & nutmeg for Christmas baking. Being in the southern hemisphere, while it’s warm for our celebrations, I still find it festive to bite into a fragrant shortbread with coffee.
Adding spices doesn’t need to be only about fruit cake.
A sugar syrup infused with ginger, star anise is magically macerated over pineapple.
Stone fruit loves lime & bay leaves.
Berries adore vanilla bean, mint & orange liquor.
Apples love cinnamon.
I love cardamom. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally remembered to spell it correctly after all these years. Not everyone likes mince pies (I know, hard to believe!!!).
Luckily Chocolate works well with spice as well.
Try this Chocolate & Ginger Tart for a dessert with a difference.
Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius
200 grams plain Marie biscuits
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
100 grams unsalted butter, melted
Combine the biscuits and sugar in a food processor and pulse to make fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to combine. Press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake until the crust is set and just golden, about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
300 grams good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
250 ml double cream
120 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
100 grams of crystallized ginger, cut into small pieces
150 grams of slivered almonds, toasted to golden brown (keep 2 tablespoons aside for garnish)
1 teaspoon ground ginger & ½ a teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 pinch of flaky sea salt
For the filling: Combine the chocolate, cream, ground ginger, ground cardamom & butter in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until the chocolate melts about 5 minutes. Stir until very smooth. Fold in the almonds & crystallized ginger. Pour into the cooled tart shell, sprinkle over the flaky sea salt and remaining toasted almond slivers and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.
Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. As this is a very rich tart, serve smaller slices. I would also suggest serving with thick Greek yoghurt. The tang of the yoghurt goes very well with the rich tart, as well as being a little healthier.
Lime & Paprika Butter
A pot of this savoury butter makes for a flavour boost to steak, chicken & seafood barbeques.
It’s quick and keeps for a month in the fridge. Heating the spices brings out the intensity, have the windows open, or the exhaust fan on, or your house will smell like a smokehouse for a week and the neighbours will be expecting an invite for bacon & eggs.
400 grams of soft unsalted butter
1 lime zested & juiced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of ground fennel
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of flaky sea salt
Cream the butter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon till spreadable, add the lime zest, juice & flaky sea salt. Have a silicon spatula ready.
In a small pan, heat the olive oil on medium and add the spices (this part is fast, only 20 seconds at the most). Stir with a wooden spoon, till toasty warm & fragrant. As soon as the spices are hot, scrape the oil & spice mixture into the butter, and fold the spices into the butter. Spoon into a jar or glass container, and chill in the fridge. Smear over a steak, over grilled vegetables, or even on a cheese toastie.