What spells Fall? Longer nights and shorter days. Leaves just about beginning to change colour. More serious food choices coming forth.
Hola… September’s here, and with it Fall / Autumn in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Adios to the lightness that spelt summer. Stone fruits have been pipped by pip fruits, and the seasons first apples and pears are beginning to creep in. We’ve sadly said goodbye to the last of the stone fruits, plums were the last to go. There was a time that my heart sank when the mango season ended. That was 2 years ago…
Now, thankfully, with fruit having established a rather significant and central role in my baking, I actually look forward to a change in season. New boundaries to be crossed, new fruit to be experimented with… so much to look forward to. In addition, being on Twitter throws up endless banter, involved discussions, much more creativity & a new meeting ground.
When Ilva of Lucullian Delights asked if I was OK to be a judge on Paper Chef as a one off, I said YES! Didn’t know what it was all about, but heck, you don’t get called to be a judge everyday. LOL! If you are trying to figure out what I’m talking about, check my post here, and also check out the Paper Chef blog here. It’s a great creative culinary contest and is meant to be fun. Once I chose my ingredients, I felt very inspired to try something my self, so what if I can’t judge myself he he!
As judge, I got to choose 3 regular ingredients and a 4th one, which could be exotic, outlandish or theme based, whatever. I would have loved to go with outlandish, but with fall just stepping in, I chose to go with a theme. I thought FALL! Think fall, think deep serious cooking again. Warm and richer flavours, spicy aromas, hearty food, filled plates. Cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin, pie spices, roasts, steamy coffee, soups…
1/4 cup clarified butter (or softened butter)
1/8 cup crystallised ginger
Run the biscuits & ginger in the food processor till like fine meal. Add the clarified butter & whiz again till it starts clumping.
Line some dessert rings or/and squares with parchment paper, & place on a tray lined with parchment paper.
Put about 1/8 cup of biscuit crumb mix into each, divided equally among the 8 rings, & press down to flatten into a base. I used a pestle.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes. take out & cool on tray .
Ricotta chocolate filling
350-300 gms ricotta (I made mine out of 1.5 litres of whole milk/recipe here); drain excess whey for 30minutes
100gms dark chocolate at room temperature
6-8 slices of crystallised ginger
200ml low fat cream
1-2 tbsps of vanilla sugar if required
Blend the warm ricotta, ginger & dark chocolate in the processor till thick & mousse like. The warmth from the ricotta should melt the chocolate.
Add the cream and whisk again. Taste and adjust sugar if required. I added 1 tbsp of sugar. Blend briefly. You should get a little more than 2 cups of mixture.
Pour over the cooled biscuit bases, with the rings/squares still in place. Chill for 4-5 hours. Serve with chilled poached pears, drizzled with syrup.
3 small firm, ripe pears, cored cut into 6 slices each
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 vanilla bean
1″ piece crushed ginger
Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottom pan & simmer for 15-20 minutes till pears are tender. Cool a bit. Remove pears to platter lined with kitchen towels to drain & cool completely. Chill until needed.
Reduce the syrup on medium heat until it is a thick & syrupy liquid. Reserve to spoon over tartlets just before serving. Can be used as an ice-cream sauce etc.