Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - APPETITES -

To peel the al­monds, drop the al­monds into a saucepan of boil­ing wa­ter and boil them for two min­utes or un­til the skins loosen, then drain them. Put the al­monds into a tea towel, gather up the edges tightly and rub the al­monds to re­move the skins. To toast the al­monds, spread them out on a bak­ing tray and bake them in a hot oven, 230°C, 450°F, Gas 8, un­til they are golden — ap­prox­i­mately 5-8 min­utes. To peel the hazel­nuts, spread them out on a tray and bake them in a hot oven, 230°C, 450°F, Gas 8, for ap­prox­i­mately 5-8 min­utes, un­til the nuts toast and darken and the skins loosen. Re­move the skins in a tea towel in the same way as the al­monds, and pick the hazel­nuts out from the rubbed-off skins.

While that is set­ting (sup­ported with a match­box or some­thing sim­i­lar, if nec­es­sary), pop it into the fridge to chill for a few min­utes.

Mean­while, stick the re­main­ing 8 crosses to­gether in pairs in the same way and al­low the pairs to set. Re­move the base from the fridge, add another tea­spoon of melted cho­co­late and put the next largest pair of crosses on top (cross 8 and cross 7), an­gling them so the branches are ar­ranged al­ter­nately. Con­tinue to as­sem­ble the pairs of crosses un­til the tree is fin­ished — how­ever, do it grad­u­ally: it is es­sen­tial that each sec­tion is com­pletely set be­fore top­ping with another layer. To serve, dec­o­rate the plate with Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions, and dust the tree lightly with sieved ic­ing sugar. Note: If you’d pre­fer to make a Rice Krispie Tree, use 250g (9ozs) of cho­co­late and 110g (4oz) Rice Krispies. Melt the cho­co­late, fold in the Rice Krispies and pro­ceed as de­scribed above. BALLYMALOE MINCE­MEAT CRUM­BLE CAKE

Serves 8-10.

For the crum­ble top­ping, you will need: A lit­tle melted but­ter, for greas­ing the tin 4oz (110g) self-rais­ing flour 3oz (75g) caster sugar 3oz (75g) chilled but­ter, diced 1oz (25g) flaked al­monds For the cake, you will need: 110g (4oz) soft­ened but­ter 110g (4oz) soft brown sugar 2 eggs 1 tea­spoon vanilla ex­tract 175g (6oz) self-rais­ing flour 2 ta­ble­spoons milk 560g (1 ¼ lbs) mince­meat Ic­ing sugar Softly whipped cream, to serve You will also need a 21 ½ cm (8in) spring­form tin. Pre­heat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. But­ter the tin with melted but­ter, mak­ing sure the base of the tin has been turned up­side down so that the ‘lip’ around the edge of the base is point­ing down. When the cake is baked, you want to be able to slide it off the base onto the serv­ing plate

First, make the crum­ble top­ping. Put the self-rais­ing flour and the caster sugar into a bowl. Rub in the diced chilled but­ter un­til the mix­ture re­sem­bles coarse crumbs. Stir in the flaked al­monds. Set aside.

Next, make the cake. Cream the soft­ened but­ter in a bowl. Add the soft brown sugar and con­tinue to beat the mix­ture un­til it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, then add the vanilla ex­tract and stir in the sifted self-rais­ing flour and the milk.

Spoon the mix­ture into the pre­pared tin. Spread the mince­meat over the cake mix­ture. Sprin­kle the crum­ble mix­ture you set aside ear­lier evenly over the mince­meat. Bake the cake on one of the lower shelves in the oven for 45-55 min­utes, un­til it is golden on top and feels softly set in the cen­tre.

Take the cake out of the oven and al­low it to stand for ten min­utes, mak­ing sure, while it is stand­ing, to slide a sharp knife around the edges to free the cake from the tin. Re­move the sides of the tin and slide the cake onto your cho­sen serv­ing plate, then dredge the cake with ic­ing sugar.

Serve warm, with softly whipped cream. CHO­CO­LATE YULE LOG

Serves 6-8.

You will need: 5 eggs 175g (6oz) caster sugar 175g (6oz) dark cho­co­late, bro­ken into small pieces 3 ta­ble­spoons wa­ter For the fill­ing, you will need: 250ml (9fl oz) cream 2 ta­ble­spoons rum, whiskey, brandy, or­ange liqueur, or an Ir­ish cream liqueur such as Coole Swan or Bai­leys or a dash of vanilla ex­tract or finely grated or­ange zest 2 ta­ble­spoons ic­ing sugar, sifted, plus a lit­tle ex­tra for dust­ing You will also need a shal­low Swiss-roll tin 30cm x 20 cm (12in x 8in). Pre­heat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. Line the Swiss-roll tin with a piece of parch­ment pa­per that is slightly larger than the tin it­self, mak­ing sure it comes up the sides as well.

Sep­a­rate the eggs. Put the egg yolks and the caster sugar in a bowl and whisk, us­ing an elec­tric beater, for a cou­ple of min­utes, un­til the mix­ture is quite thick and pale in colour.

Put the dark cho­co­late and the 3 ta­ble­spoons of wa­ter in a bowl, sit­ting over a saucepan with 2 ½ cm (1in) of sim­mer­ing wa­ter, and al­low the cho­co­late to melt, stir­ring it ev­ery so of­ten.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites un­til they form peaks. Stir the melted cho­co­late into the egg-yolk and caster sugar mix­ture. Stir a lit­tle of the whisked egg white into the mix­ture, then care­fully fold in the rest of the whisked egg white. Pour the mix­ture into the pre­pared tin and cook the cake in the pre­heated oven. Bake the cake for 12-16 min­utes, or un­til it is al­most springy to the touch around the edge, but still slightly soft in the cen­tre.

Soak a clean tea towel with cold wa­ter and wring it out thor­oughly, then cover the cooked cake mix­ture in the tin. This is to pre­vent a sug­ary crust form­ing. Leave the cake to cool thor­oughly. Pro­vided the cloth is kept damp, the cake will keep, in a cool place, for two days.

To serve, whip the cream un­til it is stiff and fold in the rum, whiskey, brandy, or­ange liqueur, or Ir­ish cream liqueur, or the dash of vanilla ex­tract or the finely grated or­ange zest, which­ever you are us­ing. Add the sifted ic­ing sugar to sweeten, then set the flavoured cream aside in the fridge un­til you’re ready to use it.

Re­move the damp tea towel from the cake, then dust it well with some sifted ic­ing sugar. Turn the tin up­side down onto another sheet of parch­ment pa­per that’s larger than the cake.

Re­move the tin and peel the at­tached parch­ment pa­per off, but don’t dis­card it. Spread the cho­co­late layer with the flavoured cream. Fi­nally, with the long­est end of the roulade clos­est to you, be­gin to roll away from you, us­ing the parch­ment pa­per to pre­vent the cake from stick­ing to your hands, but don’t roll the pa­per into the roulade.

This cake is lovely as it is and can be eaten any time of the year. To give it a Christ­massy twist, make it into a fes­tive log by cut­ting off a quar­ter of the roulade at an an­gle, then plac­ing it on the side of the roulade, so that it looks like a branch stick­ing out.

Dust the yule log gen­er­ously with sifted ic­ing sugar and dec­o­rate it with a sprig of holly. Rachel’s hair by El­lie McGrath, The Edge Hair De­sign, Cork, us­ing L’Oreal Pro­fes­sion­nel Tecni.Art Make-up by Roisin Der­rane for Lan­come Paris, see lan­come.ie, or see face­book.com/lan­come

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