Tag Archives: mothers day

Salted Caramel Tart with a Lankan twist

I’ve just returned from a very last minute week in Sri Lanka – aka the motherland. My dad’s family were the patrons of a temple in their home village (Kondavil in Jaffna) and the temple has recently been refurbished (in all of the colours) so my dad wanted to go for a pilgrimage. Now, I haven’t been to his (or mum’s) home towns since the mid-80s (you know, war) so I volunteered to go along with him. I know, I’m a saint, it was such a chore heading over to 31c, sunshine, beaches etc etc…


It was a hugely emotional trip for many reasons – not least because of my current generally emotional state (see previous post). But rather than go into that, instead, I’m going to sing the praises of my new favourite ingredient that I brought home – palmyra jaggery.


So as you probably know, jaggery is unrefined sugar made from plants with a considerable amount of sucrose – usually sugar cane. But palmyra jaggery is made from the sap of the palmyra tree which grows in abundance in Jaffna. Mum had asked me to bring some home and being a sucker for packaging, when I saw it, I decided to get some for myself too (see pic below – it’s in a case made from palmyra fronds). And what with it being mother’s day yesterday (in the UK, don’t panic, rest of world) I thought it’d be nice to make her something with it because she inspired me to buy it. In terms of flavour, the palmyra jaggery has a really rich deep taste, almost coffee like. Or cinder toffee.

And then I thought, god, this would make an amazing salted caramel which naturally took me to thinking about the lovely popcorn cheesecake recipe by Rosie Birkett. But given I’ve made that about 680 times in the last twelve months (because it’s AMAZING, go on, try it), I thought I’d try something different.

I found a recipe on Great British Chefs which I modified a little because life’s too short to weight out grams of eggs (and I wanted to incorporate the jaggery, obviously). But the original recipe is here if you fancy making it (it also gives you a great option for what to do with seven left over egg whites. Mine have just gone in the freezer). Also this is possibly the tastiest sweet pastry recipe I’ve ever tried – but don’t do what I did and trim it before you bake as it’ll collapse on itself and you’ll have to try and fix it in the oven with a spoon. Hence the slightly wonky base.


Salted Caramel Tart with Palmyra jaggery – serves 10-12 (or 8, if you’re hungry buggers) 

For the pastry base:
NB this makes enough for two tarts but can be frozen so you’ve got the best pastry on hand all the time – honestly, it’s delicious.  

  • 400g plain flour
  • 180g icing sugar
  • 130g ground almonds
  • 4g salt
  • 240g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the filling:

  • 140g caster sugar
  • 500ml of double cream
  • 100g palmyra jaggery (or any jaggery or dark muscovado)
  • 7 egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt


Prepare the pastry first – this probably needs to chill for a minimum 5 hours so you don’t end up with a fat bottomed pie.

Sift together all the dry ingredients and then add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the ingredients together till it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Then pour in the beaten egg and stir till the mix comes together. If it’s a little wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time, till it comes together and away from the sides of the bowl. tip onto a clean surface and knead briefly then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in clingfilm and put it into the fridge.

For the caramel filling, melt the caster sugar over a low heat. You may need to swirl the pan to help things along but try not to stir it too much – it may seize. Once the sugar has melted, add the double cream and stir to bring together. Then add the salt, remove from the heat and set to one side to chill.

Meanwhile, grate the jaggery into a large bowl and beat in the egg yolks. Pour over the warm double cream mix whilst continually beating. Then add the pinch of salt. Using a fine meshed sieve, pour the mix through into a clean bowl and leave to cool. Once the mix is cool (30-40 mins), skim off any bubbles from the top of the surface, cover and put into the fridge.

You can do all of this up to three days in advance.

When you’re ready to prepare your tart, remove the pastry (well, half of it) and caramel mix from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 150c and prepare a pie tin (I did mine in a 20cm springform cake tin as I couldn’t find a pie tin – worked just as well…) Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin and roll out the pastry to a thickness of approx 5mm and then line the tin, taking care not to rip the pastry (if you do, simply patch it up with any excess). Make sure you’ve got enough to hang over the edges of the tin – this is where mine collapsed and created a wonky base.

Put it back in the fridge for 20 mins to firm up again, then line the base with greaseproof paper and baking beans, pop onto a baking sheet and put into the oven.

Once the sides are golden, remove the baking beans/paper and put back into the oven for the base to cook and colour (approx 5-10 mins). Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10-15 mins. Meanwhile, reduce the heat to 100c.

Once the base is cooked, pour the salted caramel filling into the tart case and put the whole thing back into the oven. The tart is cooked when the filling barely wobbles when you shake the tin. It will take at least one hour depending on how accurate your oven is, but check it after 40 mins, and then every 15 mins after that.

Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Serve with a drizzle of cream or a random selection of macarons, praline and ice cream if you want to be all Great British Cheffy. Or just eat as is.



Mother’s Day baked treats: weird scones and goat’s cheese cheesecake

It’s Mother’s Day so to those of you that are mums (which I’d say is some) and those of you that have mums (which is all) – Happy Mother’s Day! My mum is awesome – I obviously didn’t think this when I was in my pre-teens/teens/early 20s but in recent years, I’ve realised just how much she does and how much she put up with from me during those rebellious years, so thanks Mum! As you’ll see from the picture below, I am also turning into her. It really does happen to us all.

me and mum

Also, did you know that Mother’s Day is an official holiday and not a Hallmark one? I overheard some ladies on the train on the way back from Birmingham talking about it – they said it was government created so that women working in war offices got a day off to see their mothers. Isn’t that nice? Of course, this could be utter nonsense but, heck, I bought it!

This year, my sister and I are doing an afternoon tea for mum at home so I decided to make some scones. For some reason I decided to play around with an old classic. Dan Lepard’s Short and Sweet cookbook calls for using plain yoghurt instead of eggs and milk or buttermilk. I love Dan’s recipes so decided I’d try this out. Not entirely sure why, I had eggs and milk in the fridge but only fig flavoured yoghurt. I think I was sucked in by the time I made a spiced cranberry bundt cake using strawberry yoghurt instead of plain yoghurt and it came out really well (apart from sticking to the tin which I blame entirely on lazy assed greasing) so figured now bad could this be? The answer was quite bad. Whilst they’re an OK scone they’re a little weird and strangely green. Note to self: stick to what the recipe calls for if you have it in the fridge. I made a second batch with eggs and milk and they are absolutely delicious.

Not fig scones

Last weekend I made a goat’s cheese tart as a starter but totally got my numbers wrong and ended up with five spare goat’s cheese logs. The husband doesn’t really like goat’s cheese so I decided to make a goat’s cheese cheesecake as mum loves cheesecake and I hate waste. I also really like slightly savoury sweets and goat’s cheese has that lovely tang that I thought would work quite well.

I found a recipe on The Guardian website as part of their “10 Best” series which is really awesome if you are bored of using favourite ingredients in the same way. I slightly modified it to use up other ingredients in the cupboard. Would love to hear what you’ve made for your mums today.

Goat’s cheese, honey, cinnamon and ginger cheesecake with a hint of chilli

  • 200g biscuits. I used a tin of Lucifer’s from Fortnum and Mason – these are ginger and chilli flavoured and delicious. I also added in about 6 digestives to dampen the chilli hit
  • 80g butter melted
  • 400g goat’s cheese
  • 180ml honey
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp ginger
  • 150g sour cream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Bash the biscuits till they resemble fine breadcrumbs (or do this in a food processor, makes life so much easier if you have one) and then pour over the melted and slightly cooled butter. Spoon this into a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin and press flat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. At this stage, turn the oven on low – I was at gas mark 3, which is about 160C. Bake the base for 15 minutes and leave to cool.

If you, like me, have the type of goat’s cheese with a rind, you’ll need a food processor again. If it’s just the soft stuff, you probably won’t. I put my goat’s cheese with rind into the food processor with the honey and then blended it for about 5 minutes till it had turned into a lovely soft paste. Turn this out into a bowl and stir in the ginger and cinnamon. Add the sour cream and stir till it’s all combined. Beat in the eggs, one by one, and then add the vanilla extract and salt and stir till it’s all combined.

Pour the topping over the base and put back into the oven for 40-50 minutes until the edges are set and the centre is still a bit wobbly. Leave to cool in the tin, then move the tin to the fridge and leave for a few hours (or overnight) to fully set. Don’t do what I did and press too hard on the centre – I’ve had to top it with raspberries to cover the big hole I’ve made in the middle. Ooops. Don’t tell my mum. The one on the Guardian website calls for a simple drizzle of honey, which looks incredible and absolutely wouldn’t work with a gigantic finger shaped hole. But the raspberries don’t look too bad. Do they?