Temptation from my diet , Sticky Cumbrian Gingerbread.

Sticky Cumbrian Gingerbread , White chocolate mousse , Sea Buckthorn jellies , Jeffersons Rum Gel and Caramelised Hazelnuts…..a challenge to any hardened dieter.

Sticking to the annual diet really isn`t an easy task and when each new year comes around things always seem to get harder and harder and the weight gets more and more stubborn to shift. So , 2011, new year , new diet , chicken , fish , lots of good veg and a daily trip to the local Seascale bakehouse for a salad in a box.Trouble is though , just popping out for a
simple healthy boxed meal really isnt as easy as it sounds.Problem is that even though the girls in there are always offering kind support and lots of encouragement to eat healthily theres always that daily temptation and smell of hot bacon sarnies and full English breakfasts in home made bread buns wafting down the road for a mile on the wind playing mind games straight away.Once in the shop theres the torture of the  fresh cream
cakes, hot bread and cakes straight from the oven sending out tantalising aromas to tempt the strictest of dieters….Worse still , right in eyeline vision there sits the most enormous slabs of sticky , darkest brown Cumbrian Gingerbread i`ve ever cast eyes upon and to a guy that was raised on Gingerbread made fresh by mother every sunday resisting this lot on this occasion was more than i could handle.My  friend,  Mr `Spud Murphy` from the Guidemedia group had asked me towrite a new recipe for a forthcoming magazine issue and right in a moment of weak willed madness i thought it would be a fantastic excuse for me to “experiment” and develop a recipe using the Gingerbread.It was a good traditional Cumbrian staple….and a wee treat for myself at the same time.Being a good lad and sticking to my new year diet so far…….i decided to purchase a large piece…..or four to
allow for any mistakes along the way.So on to the recipe…

.I thought it would be a nice idea seeing this was going to be an unhealthy but very comforting dessert to make it even more artery clogging by the addition of a White chocolate mousse sandwiched between the gingerbread somehow.Also to counteract the sweetness the dessert needed something sharp to balance everything out nicely.I couldnt help noticing around my workplace that there was lots of Sea Buckthorn bushes heavy with their bright orange berries.These berries had survived the heavy period of snow and also minus 10 deg frosts and were still in prime condition.Apparently they are very high in vitamin C , have a unique flavour and are very tart to taste.I took a walk along the shoreline near my home town of Whitehaven and didnt have to walk far before i came across enough berries to feed a thousand people…More food for free in early February.

Sea Buckthorn , On the bush above in early february and below is a close up showing the berries in perfect condition.They`re meant to be removed with a fork into a container but after jabbing myself several times in five minutes i decided to cut a few branches off and take them home to do in my kitchen…….Big mistake.They`re really not easy to get off the branches , they kinda Splat all over the place , on the white walls , over whatever you`re wearing and also managed to hit myself right in the eye….Lets just say it stings…a lot , and feel as they`ve been filled with Nitric acid.Another reason why no one picks them…even the birds dont eat them.I must be crazy.

So , probably the best way to remove them is “gently”  – with a fork , inside a plastic bag.Then you`ll save your walls , eyes and whatever you`re wearing.They don`t really come off the branches clean anyways , they just burst and the juice comes out so just collect the juices , skins in a plastic container then push them through a sieve to get the puree through.Its a pretty unusual taste, i`ve never tasted anything like it before so its pretty unique, high in vitamin C , and very tart in acidity.It needs sweetened up before use so heres what i did to make the jelly.

3 Leaves of gelatine

1/2 cup of Sea Buckthorn puree ( sieved)

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 cup of water.

Add the gelatine leaves to a container of water to soak for 5 minutes

Put the Buckthorn puree into a pan with the sugar and water and bring to the boil.Skim off any impurities and then add the softened gelatine.Add a little more sugar at this stage to your own personal taste then pour into a clingfilm lined container.Allow to set in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Good old Cumbrian Gingerbread , nice and sticky and as black as treacle.Its`s a firm favourite in our county and everyones got their favourite recipe.I got this one off my Mother who in turn got it from her Mother so its been in the family for quite a while now.As far as gingerbread goes , there`s none better , its just so sticky and very moreish and definitely not good for dieters. The recipe is in imperial measurements as no one has ever bothered to convert it …I like it the old way best so it aint getting changed in a hurry.

4 ounces of Butter

2 ounces of Golden syrup

6 ounces of Treacle

1/4 pint of Milk

Put these above  four ingredients into a pan and warm them through to melt everything together.

8 ounces of self raising flour

4 ounces of sugar

1 teaspoon of ginger

1 teaspoon of mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda.

Put the flour , sugar , ginger , spice and soda into a bowl and mix them together.

2 eggs , beaten

Make a well in the centre and add the egg mixture, mix into the dry mix

Now beat in the hot milk mixture and thoroughly mix everything together.

Pour the mix into a baking tin / loaf tin and place in a moderate oven for approximately 40 – 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake.

Allow the cake to cool on a rack and its ready to eat.It can be wrapped in clingfilm at this stage and gets even better after 3 or 4 days.

Caramelised Hazelnuts

Now these little beauties are really simple to make at home and guaranteed to give the WOW factor when used to spruce up a dessert.There`s only one problem…Caramel , its horrendously hot and once its got to the dipping stage its actually hotter than the surface of the sun.I like to use a small copper pan for this as it actually contains the caramel to a small area and also conducts the heat as well so i have good control.Use long sleeves if you decide to have a go at home as i dont want anyone knocking on my door with one arm in bandages.

So all you`ll need is Hazelnuts , cocktail sticks , Blu Tac and sugar. Put the sugar into a pan ( about a cup full ) and put the pan over the heat.

Put a strip of Blu Tac underneath the kitchen cupboards so you can line the nuts up in a row as you dip them.Stick one end of the nut with a cocktail stick and put them to one side.

Gently shake the pan and youll notice that the sugar is starting to melt over the heat.Over a few minutes it will begin to turn to caramel ( This is where it gets really dangerous so make sure there`s no children about). Eventually after a few minutes all the sugar will have turned to caramel and will be dark golden in colour.Dont allow the caramel to smoke as that will mean that its about to burn. Quench the bottom of the pan in cold water to stop the caramel cooking further.

Carefully dip the nuts on their sticks into the caramel, lift out and stick the other end of the stick into the Blu Tac on the kitchen units.It will immediately start dripping so put some greaseproof paper underneath.Carry on dipping all of the nuts and line them up on the Blu Tac.

To Assemble and serve I made a White chocolate mousse with a simple vanilla , cream and white chocoalte recipe from a cookery book.I Let this set in the fridge overnight then cut it into cylinders with a round cookie cutter.I also used the same size cutter to cut rounds of Gingerbread that i used for a base and top to sandwich the chocolate mousse between.I cut out small circles of Sea Buckthorn jelly and made a Rum gel using local Jeffersons Rum , sugar syrup and Gellan.Arranged everything on a plate and eat the lot.Infact i enjoyed it so much that i had seconds…and then thirds…Dieters Will power ????  Nahhhhh.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sally says:

    How on earth have you got the patience to make all this?! Wow. Very different from the look of my sticky gingerbread (a dark, black slab) – although it tastes great.

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