Layered Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Gateau

My mum asked me to make a chocolate-based pudding to serve alongside the traditional boozy-fruity-pyrotechnic Christmas fare. I spent a good while researching recipes and just couldn’t find anything that appealed to me, so I set about dreaming something up. This is very much a work in progress, so I’m predominantly blogging it so that I’ve got notes for when I embark on the second attempt. I was concerned it might be horribly rich but actually it was light and delicious. If I weren’t in polite company (well, my family, so relatively polite) I could’ve put away a heart-stopping quantity of it…

I used a 10″ tin. I might try a 9″ next time, which would obviously make it slightly taller.

Layer 1: chocolate sponge base
I made a 1 egg version of the sponge from the chocolate and raspberry cake I did in October (which also gave me eight bonus cupcakes as I wanted a very slim cake base):
25g dark chocolate
115ml hot brewed coffee
150g caster sugar (reduced from original to avoid sickliness)
100g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch salt
1 large egg
55ml sunflower oil
110ml buttermilk / plain yoghurt
Spot vanilla extract

Method as in the other recipe. When the sponge is cooled, remove the baking paper, wash the tin then line its sides with acetate and drop the sponge back in.

Layer 2: chocolate mousse
170g dark chocolate
80ml whole milk
1 large egg yolk
4 large egg whites
2 tbsp caster sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (in a large bowl) then leave it on the counter to cool a little. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over the chocolate, then blend using a small whisk. Add the egg yolk and gently work into the chocolate. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then increase the speed and add the sugar gradually. Continue whisking to stiff peaks. Add a third of the egg whites to the chocolate and beat to lighten. Carefully but thoroughly fold in the rest of the whites, then pour the mousse mixture into the tin on top of the sponge and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Layers 3 and 5: hazelnut meringue
40g toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped in a blender
2 large egg whites
120g caster sugar

Preheat to 140C. Draw around the tin onto two sheets of baking paper, which will then line two baking sheets. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking the whole time, until you get a firm glossy meringue. Gently fold in the hazelnuts. Spread the meringue mixture onto the baking sheets as flat as you can, to about 1cm from the edge of the circles you drew on the baking paper. Bake for about 90 minutes (you want crispy meringue) then switch off the oven and leave the meringues inside overnight to cool completely and dry out. Place one meringue on top of the chocolate mousse and keep the other aside.

Layer 4: Chantilly cream (ish)
300ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract
(Chantilly cream usually contains sugar too, hence the “ish”. I didn’t want this too sweet.)

Whisk the cream to soft peaks, then add the vanilla and continue whisking to firm peaks. Spread on top of the first meringue, reserving a big spoonful. Place the second meringue on the top, then top with the reserved cream and make the surface as flat as possible. Place in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes to allow the top surface to become firm enough to stay put when you spread the ganache.

Layer 6: chocolate ganache
105g dark chocolate, finely chopped
150ml double cream
1tbsp Golden Syrup
35g unsalted butter

Over a low-medium heat, slowly bring the double cream and Golden Syrup to a boil. Pour over the chocolate and stir VERY SLOWLY in concentric circles starting in the middle. When it has emulsified, throw in the butter a few cubes at a time and continue stirring gently until it’s all in and melted. Take the gateau out of the freezer and spread the ganache over the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. [Note to self: try a more fluid ganache next time so it doesn’t set so firm?]

I finished this one with some salted caramel I happened to have left over, which I attempted to fashion into a snowflake-type motif with some gold edible glitter. Annoyingly, the ganache was too firm to recover from the skewer I dragged over it – I should’ve done this before refrigerating.

Layered Chocolate Hazelnut Gateau

Layered Chocolate Hazelnut Gateau

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Cat’s Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

My beautiful, vivacious, generous, intelligent, loyal and all-round awesome friend Cat turns 30 today.  She is the most marvellous maker of mischief, queen of comedy and has the capacity to create magic out of absolutely nothing.  There was never a more worthy recipient of a genuinely extravagant birthday cake… I found this recipe for a chocolate and raspberry cake online, so I converted it into UK measurements for a two-tier cake:

Ingredient 8” cake (+ 4 cupcakes) 6” cake (+ 3 cupcakes)
Dark chocolate (53% cocoa solids) 85g 55g
Hot brewed coffee 350ml 230ml
Caster sugar 600g 400g
Plain flour 312g 205g
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) 125g 85g
Baking powder ¾ tsp ½ tsp
Bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp 1½ tsp
Salt ½ tsp ¼ tsp
Large eggs 3 2
Sunflower oil 175ml 115ml
Buttermilk 355ml 235ml
Vanilla extract ¾ tsp ½ tsp

Preheat to 150C.  Butter and base-line your tins.  (I often take the bone-idle route and settle for just base-lining, but you really should butter these tins, even if they’re non-stick.) Measure out and sieve all the dry ingredients into one bowl.  Finely chop the chocolate, then pour the hot coffee over, let it sit, then stir to make sure the chocolate is evenly melted. In a stand mixer, beat the eggs for about 3 minutes until slightly thickened.  While the beater is running on slow speed, add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until combined, then add the oil in the same way.

Looks a bit like custard

Looks a bit like custard

Pour in the chocolate/coffee mix…

Slightly darker custard

Slightly darker custard

Finally, sift in the dry ingredients and mix (carefully, so as not to let too much fly out of the bowl) until properly combined.  You will have a VERY liquidy cake mixture, which will make you question whether it could possibly create a cake.  Have faith, my friends.

Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The original recipe is for three 9″ pans but my trio measure 8″ so I made some Brucie Bonus cupcakes with the extra batter (very useful for Quality Control purposes).

Three 8" cakes + Brucie Bonus cupcakes

Three 8″ cakes + Brucie Bonus cupcakes

Bake on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Interestingly, the 6″ cakes took the same time to bake.

Pile 'em up (and fire the lighting designer)

Pile ’em up (and fire the lighting designer)

Next comes the raspberry goodness, for which you need:
300g fresh raspberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
(I made twice this, and now have an absurd quantity in my freezer.)

Blitz your raspberries then sieve the seeds out.  As for how to clean the sieve afterwards, I have no tips.  I yelled at mine, but it didn’t help. Pour the blitzed berries in a saucepan and sprinkle the sugar and cornflour over.  Heat gently until it thickens, stirring all the time.  It’ll take a good 10 minutes, I reckon.  I reduced the sugar from the original recipe so this tastes relatively sharp (depending on your raspberries) but the rich, chocolatey cake can absolutely take it.

Look at that colour

Look at that colour

Pour into a bowl and let it cool completely before sandwiching the cakes together with it.  Be a bit more generous than I was; I could barely taste the raspberry (this may or may not have been influenced by the quantity of red wine I had already consumed).

Raspberry tanginess

Raspberry tanginess

Serious cake

Serious cake

Ganache time.  The addition of Golden Syrup adds another dimension to this, which I really enjoyed.  I did, however, remove the sugar from the original recipe.  This quantity does a nice, thin-ish layer on the two cakes.  You don’t really want it too much thicker, I don’t think.

210g dark chocolate (53% cocoa solids)
300ml double cream
2 tbsp Golden Syrup
75g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Finely chop the chocolate and throw in a heat-proof bowl.  Over a low-medium heat, slowly bring the double cream and Golden Syrup to a boil.  Pour over the chocolate and stir VERY SLOWLY in concentric circles starting in the middle.  Be patient.  For a long time, it’ll look like it won’t emulsify but it will.  Do not be tempted to speed up your stirring.  When it has emulsified, throw in the butter a few cubes at a time and continue stirring gently until it’s all in and melted.  You’ll have a beautifully glossy ganache.

The phases of ganache-making

The phases of ganache-making

I refrigerated mine (stirring every 5 minutes) until it reached spreading consistency.

Glossy

Glossy

Into the final phase… decoration.  YES.  For the 6″ cake, I cheated and bought some high quality dark chocolate pencils and stuck 75 round the side.  At 10cm, they only just fit the height of the cake..

Cheating

Cheating

Looks good though, right?

Looks good though, right?

For the bottom tier, I tried my hand at tempering chocolate without a digital thermometer.  Then I put “digital thermometer” on my list for Santa. The theory is that you take 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and melt 130g of it in a bain-marie, keeping it over the pan until it reaches 48C.  Then take the bowl off the heat, and add the remaining 70g of chocolate, stirring gently and continuously until it cools to 32C.  If you do this successfully, the chocolate will set more quickly than usual and will be more robust (i.e. won’t melt as easily) as normal chocolate.

I did just fine with my mercury jam thermometer until the cooling down bit, when the minimum measured temperature of 40C was something of a hindrance.  So I guessed.  As luck would have it, the result was alright, but it took an age to set so was definitely not tempered properly.

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that my kitchen is a little… petite, so this next project had to take place at my dining table, with the help of some foam-board I had left over from a crafty project…

I cut and taped an acetate cocoa butter transfer to make a 70cm long strip, 12cm wide, which I laid out cocoa-side up.  I spread the chocolate (a little too thinly) over with an angled palette knife and waiting IMPATIENTLY for the FLIPPING thing to set, wishing that it were a cooler October evening than it was.

Uncharted territory

Uncharted territory

Set, you fickle bugger.  SET.

Set, you fickle bugger. SET.

Eventually, it was sufficiently set for me to wrap it around the cake.  In light of the fact that I knew I hadn’t tempered the chocolate properly, I decided it needed a little technical assistance to set properly so put it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, I carefully peeled off the acetate (not quite carefully enough, you might notice).

We didn't need that little chunk.

We didn’t need that little chunk.

A quick trip across London and some holding of breath, and the genuinely extravagant birthday cake was assembled, beribboned…

Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

Chocolate & Raspberry Cake

… and set on fire.

Happy birthday, Cat. x

Happy birthday, Cat. x

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

I went to a wonderful wedding back in January, which boasted many, many incredible features – one of which being the food.  Pudding was a stunning salted caramel tart topped with chocolate ganache and I promised myself there and then that I would give it a shot.  Four attempts later and I’m ready to share my findings.  It’ll be a relatively lengthy post, this one, so perhaps get yourself a coffee before you start…

Sweet Crumbly Pastry: 
125g plain flour
25g icing sugar
75g unsalted butter, cold
1 egg yolk
2 tsp cold water

Weigh the dry ingredients into a bowl, then rub the butter in with your fingers until it reaches a sandy consistency.  Add the egg yolk and water, and bring the pastry together with your hands into a ball.  Flatten it into a fat disk and wrap it in clingfilm.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and prepare your tart ring or loose-bottomed tart tin.

Sweet pastry, rested

Sweet pastry, rested

Tart ring

Tart ring on a lined baking sheet

Most recipes advise you to roll pastry onto a floured surface, but I prefer rolling it onto a sheet of clingfilm.  Sweet pastry is delicate and has a tendency to fall apart when manipulated, so the clingfilm enables you to move it to the tin without it splitting as it can when draped over a rolling pin.  Grab the clingfilm with the pastry on it and tip it upside down over the tart ring.  Leaving the clingfilm attached, carefully press in to the corners, against the ring.

The joy of clingfilm

The joy of clingfilm

Peel away the clingfilm and discard.  Leave the excess pastry draped over the sides so that the walls don’t drop during baking.  Stab the base all over, then refrigerate again for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, centre a shelf and preheat the oven to 170C.

Sweet pastry case

Sweet pastry case

Line the pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking beans, making sure they push right against the edges to reduce the risk of the pastry shrinking away from the sides.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Slowly remove the paper containing the baking beans, then loosely cover the pastry walls with a thin strip of foil to shield them from browning too much.  Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, until it’s a nice golden colour.  Remove from the oven, trim the edges and leave to cool.

Ceramic baking beans

Ceramic baking beans

Blind-baked sweet pastry case

Blind-baked sweet pastry case

Trimmed sweet pastry case

Trimmed sweet pastry case

Sea Salted Caramel:
65g whipping cream
1/2 vanilla pod
100g sea salted butter (cubed, at room temperature)
145g caster sugar

N.B. I don’t have photographs of these stages because caramel can transform from all-going-well to absolutely-ruined-start-again in seconds, so I didn’t want to risk ruin by standing around with a camera at crucial moments.  

Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and drop the seeds and the pod into a small saucepan with the cream.  Bring to a rapid boil, take off the heat then leave on the side to cool a little.

Preheat the base of a second saucepan on a low heat.  Cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of sugar.  When it begins to melt around the edges, gradually add a little more sugar, concentrating on covering the melting sections first.  Continue gradually adding more.  When you want to bring unmelted crystals into the melted sugar, be sure only to stir in tiny circles, never allowing any air to fold in.  Watch for: an amber colour, a fine mist starting to come off the pan, and tiny bubbles in the middle of the pan increasing in speed.

Take the caramel off the heat.  Add a tiny bit of the cream/vanilla (don’t remove the vanilla pod yet), stirring simultaneously.  It will bubble up a lot, so keep your face and hands clear of the steam.  Continue adding cream until it’s all in and smooth.

Once all the cream is in and the caramel has cooled a little, add the butter a few chunks at a time and stir in.  Don’t worry if it looks split at any point; it will emulsify eventually.  Pour caramel into a heat-proof dish (still including the vanilla pod) and leave to cool.

Chocolate Ganache:
230g dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
250g double cream
60g unsalted butter, room temperature

Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients.  Bring the cream to the boil.  While the cream is heating, work the butter until it is very soft and creamy and leave to one side.

When the cream is at a full boil, remove from the heat and – working with a rubber spatula – gradually stir the cream into the chocolate.  Work SLOWLY, starting in the middle in tiny circles, and gradually widening out to the edges.  Continue this pattern, without creating bubbles, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Leave the bowl to cool for a few minutes before adding the butter in two batches, stirring in the same pattern as before.

Tip: rescuing split chocolate ganache
Making chocolate ganache can be really tricky as it’s sensitive to things like room temperature, the speed of stirring and all sorts.  If it splits (you’ll see fats separating out of the chocolate and the texture will be odd), don’t panic; you can probably still rescue it.  Leave it in its bowl and pop it in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.  The fats will have settled and partially solidified on the surface so it’ll look awful.  Take your clean rubber spatula and give it a good stir.  It should come together.  You may find a few tiny spots of butter, which are easily plucked out and discarded.  Don’t refrigerate it again as you’ll need it at a spreadable consistency.

Assembly:
Very simple, really.  Depending on the equipment you’ve used, make a decision about whether it would be better to leave the pastry case in the tin/ring so that the walls have support or to remove it now before it has been filled.

Pour the caramel into the pastry case and distribute evenly, all the way to the edges.  Gently spread the ganache over the top, being careful not to push down and displace the caramel.

(Your caramel will look more even and liquidy than this because mine had cooled a little too much so I had to spread it manually with a palette knife – but it was still gorgeously gooey when we cut into it.  Yours should be a pour-able consistency.)

Sea salted caramel

Sea salted caramel

Salted caramel chocolate tart

Salted caramel chocolate tart

If you like, you can finish with a dusting of icing sugar or grating chocolate over the top.  Cover with an upturned bowl or a cake box lid and leave at room temperature to set into a sumptuous texture.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart Slice

Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart Slice

This final photograph was an earlier – good but not quite as good – version but the picture is far superior to anything I could take so I’m posting it anyway.  (Thanks, Andy.)

Salted caramel tart slice (attempt 3)

Salted caramel tart slice (an earlier attempt)

Pistachio, Chocolate & Apricot Tartlets with Pistachio Macarons

Oh, how I love a good dinner party.  I particularly love throwing them, as it gives me the opportunity to try new things, though I tend to chuck in something tried and tested so that we have something to eat if my experiments are unmitigated disasters.  Yesterday evening, my unsuspecting guinea pigs were my good friends and Coro colleagues Angharad, Freddie, Cat, Robbie and Richard, and their menu was as follows:

Starter: seared scallops served with crispy pancetta, lambs lettuce, homemade salsa verde and roasted cherry tomatoes (chosen because I’d never cooked scallops before)
Main: Boeuf Bourguignon served with seasonal purple sprouting broccoli, mange tout and fresh bread (this was the tried and tested bit, which was made using a combination of Raymond Blanc’s recipe and one I had used a few years ago, the source of which I forget)
Cheese: delicious artisan cheeses from The Handpicked Foodstore, which included Farleigh Wallop Goat’s Cheese by Alex James (creamy, tangy, yum), Perl Las Organic blue (strong yet subtle) and a slow-baked Calabrian fig ball, which is an amazing accompaniment – I strongly encourage you to try it.  I also picked up a nice stinky Brie de Meaux and a British cheddar to complete the set.
Pudding: Chocolate mousse tartlets on pistachio pastry, topped with glazed apricot and served with a pistachio macaron.

Sadly, as my iPhone serves both as camera and DJ in my world, I couldn’t take photographs of all the food without interrupting proceedings so I’ll focus mainly on the pudding, but I just want to share a photo of how the boeuf started out… (bear in mind that there is another chunk of beef of the same size hiding beneath the one you can see):

Boeuf Bourguignon, stage 1

Boeuf Bourguignon, stage 1

[To get an idea of scale, bear in mind that blue bowl measures approximately 30cm across.  Yes.]

So.  Pudding.  Now, I shan’t mislead you, dear reader.  This was neither a straightforward nor quick pudding to make, but by goodness was it worth the effort.  It all started with pistachio pastry cases.

240g plain flour
65g raw pistachios (without shells)
50g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, cold
1 large egg yolk
45-60ml water, cold

I don’t have a food processor, so I used the little bowl attachment for my stick blender to blitz the pistachios into dust, then combined them with the sifted flour and sugar, stirring them through with a fork.  Then I started rubbing the butter into the dry mixture before blitzing it in small batches to make it a sandy consistency.  I stirred in the yolk, then added the water a little at a time until the pastry started to come together.  Once I had formed it into a bowl, I wrapped it in cling film and chilled it for an hour or so.

Pistachio Pastry - chilled

Pistachio Pastry – chilled

Now, you’ll notice that I’ve prepared the work surface as though I planned to roll it out, which I did, but I realised very quickly that this isn’t the kind of pastry you can roll out, so I tore off chunks and pressed them carefully into the tartlet cases with my fingers, using a sharp knife to remove the excess that came up above the edges.  I tried to make the pastry fairly thin so that it didn’t overwhelm the pudding.

Pistachio Pastry - filling the cases

Pistachio Pastry – filling the cases

Pistachio Pastry - pricked

Pistachio Pastry – pricked

I pricked the bases with a fork, then added baking paper and baking beans, baked for 10 minutes at 210C, then removed the baking beans and baked for a further 5 minutes until they were crisp and golden.  (As a side note, I HATE baking beans.  Or rather, I hate how inept I am at using them – I always manage to lose control of them as I remove them, and end up chasing the tiny fiery spheres around my kitchen.)

Pistachio Pastry - filled with tiny fiery spheres

Pistachio Pastry – filled with tiny fiery spheres

Next, I made the chocolate mousse, which is a wonderfully simple and reliable recipe from the French patisserie genius, Pierre Hermé:

170g dark chocolate (the best you can get your paws on)
80g whole milk
1 large egg yolk
4 large egg whites
2tbsp caster sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie, using a large bowl that will hold all the ingredients.  Set aside to cool a little.  Heat the milk in a small pan until it reaches boiling point, then pour it over the chocolate and gently combine with a small whisk.  Add the egg yolk and stir through just until it’s incorporated.  Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, then hike up the speed and gradually add the sugar while it’s still whisking, continuing to firm peaks.  Add a third of the egg whites to the chocolate and beat in to lighten the mixture.  Then use a rubber spatula or metal spoon to fold in the rest of the white – be gentle and try not to lose too much air.

Chocolate  Mousse - melted chocolate and boiling milk

Chocolate Mousse – melted chocolate and boiling milk

Chocolate Mousse - folding in the egg whites

Chocolate Mousse – folding in the egg whites

Chocolate Mousse - filled cases

Chocolate Mousse – filled cases

(You’ll notice there was enough mousse left over for a cheeky little “test” portion.)

These went in the fridge for a few hours, so in the meantime I made the pistachio macarons.  This was somewhat experimental as I didn’t find a recipe I liked online, so I adjusted Pierre Hermé’s chocolate macaron recipe and crossed my fingers that it would work.  I made half a batch, which yielded about 32 (so 16 sandwiched macarons).

50g ground almonds
125g icing sugar
30g raw pistachios, without shells
50g egg white (start with 2 large egg whites, beat lightly with a fork, then you can weigh out exactly 50g)
a tiny bit of green gel colouring

Line a large heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, and fit a piping bag with a 1-1½cm round nozzle.  Set aside.  In a food processor (I used my little stick blender arrangement again), whizz your pistachios and almonds for a good few minutes until they are really fine.  Ideally, the bits need to go through a sieve.

Pistachio Macaron - blitzed pistachios

Pistachio Macaron – blitzed pistachios

Sift the almonds, pistachios and icing sugar together.  Carefully measure out your 50g of egg white, then whisk them up to medium-firm peaks.  In 3 or 4 additions, use a rubber spatula to fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients, popping in the tiniest bit of green colouring with it.  It will seem like there’s far too much dry stuff but it will work eventually.  Don’t worry if it looks deflated and a bit runny – that’s good.  It should look like cake batter.

Pistachio Macaron - the batter

Pistachio Macaron – the batter

Use a little bit of the batter to stick down the four corners of the parchment paper (otherwise you’ll be battling to keep it down while you pipe).  Pipe 2.5cm rounds, leaving 2.5cm between each.  When you’ve finished piping, firmly grab the baking sheet with both hands and give it a good bash on the counter to get the air out of the batter.  Leave the sheet on the counter for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven, which allows them to form a light skin before baking.

Pistachio Macaron - piped

Pistachio Macaron – piped

Now, at this point Pierre and I have a small disagreement, largely because chocolate macarons don’t show browning from a hot oven but the pale green pistachio ones do.  So, while Pierre recommends starting with an oven temperature of 220C, I wonder whether 200 might be more friendly but don’t believe me until I’ve had a second chance to make these.  When the oven is up to temperature, pop in the baking sheet, immediately reduce the oven temperature (Pierre says 180C; I’m thinking maybe 150C) and stick a wooden spoon in the oven door to keep it slightly open.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the macarons are smooth and just firm to the touch.

The macarons need to be removed from the sheet immediately and, because they’re sticky little buggers, you’ll need to get some steam under them to loosen them.  Pour the tiniest bit of hot water between the parchment and the baking sheet, and tilt to distribute the water – you’ll be able to see it bubbling beneath the paper.  Then use a fish slice or similar to lift each macaron and pop it on a cooling rack.

Now, I was able to cheat at this point because I had some chocolate ganache in the freezer which I had made a few weeks ago but ganache is dead simple to make, and you only need a little for so few macarons, so try this:

50g dark chocolate (high quality)
50g double cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

Chop the chocolate quite small and throw in a bowl.  Smush the butter and set aside.  Bring the cream to the boil, then very slowly stir into the chocolate with a rubber spatula – the heat of the cream will melt the chocolate.  When the mixture is smooth, leave the bowl on the counter for a couple of minutes to cool a little before adding the butter in two additions, using the rubber spatula in circles widening slowly from the centre to the edge.  When the butter is all in, you should have a smooth, glossy ganache.  Chill it for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5, until it gets to piping consistency.  Sandwich the macarons with the ganache.

By now, the chocolate mousse should be nicely set.  Allowing about 1-1½ apricots per tartlet, start to slice one at a time, as finely as you can.  Bringing one tart at a time out of the fridge, lay the apricot slices on the top, starting at the outside edge and working in.

Apricot Tartlets - layering the apricot slices

Apricot Tartlets – layering the apricot slices

Apricot Tarlets - three down...

Apricot Tarlets – three down…

When you’ve finished, heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam in a small saucepan and paint on with a pastry brush to glaze.  Stick them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.  At which point, chop up some pistachios to sprinkle on top, and dust a little cocoa on the macaron (please try to ignore the dent in my macaron, where the cooling rack fell on it…).  In an ideal world, serve with a lovely dessert wine (this one was particularly delicious and is available from Waitrose for an indulgent £14.49).

Pistachio, Chocolate and Apricot Tartlets with Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio, Chocolate and Apricot Tartlets with Pistachio Macarons