Eunice Power - Outside Catering Company, Waterford, Ireland.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Polenta shortbreads with strawberries and cream

For those who have a fear of baking, these shortbread are such a success story. The only things you have to do are measure accurately and make sure the butter is cold. The dough comes together like a dream and is really easy to work with. Polenta is a great addition, giving a gorgeous buttery crunch. The biscuits are the perfect companion for strawberries and cream.

  • 150g plain flour
  • 80g polenta.
  • 75g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 120g cold butter, cut into cubes.
  • 1 egg
  • 30ml olive oil.
Preheat an oven to 160 degrees/gas 3. Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse again, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. In a small bowl beat the egg and olive oil together with a fork. Add the wet ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a ball of dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently roll out the dough to a thickness of three to four millimetres. Cut the dough with a scone cutter. I used a nine centimetre cutter which yielded 18 shortbreads. Place the shortbreads on a lined baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool and store in an air tight container until needed.

Strawberry filling
  • Large punnet of strawberries (about 500g)
  • 200ml of cream, whipped to soft peak stage
  • Icing sugar to taste
  • A few sprigs of mint
Remove six large strawberries from the punnet and set aside. Hull the remaining strawberries and chop into little chunks. Fold the chopped strawberries into the whipped cream and add icing sugar to taste. Return the strawberry cream to the fridge until needed. This can be done four hours ahead and the flavour improves with time.

To assemble 
I allow three shortbreads per portion. Put a good dollop of strawberry cream on six shortbreads. Put another shortbread biscuit on top, followed by another layer of strawberry cream, followed by shortbread. Decorate using the reserved strawberries and a sprig of mint, finish off with a good dredge of icing sugar.

(A tip from the caterer's kitchen - put a half teaspoon of the strawberry cream on the plate before putting on the first shortbread, this stops the shortbread sliding around the plate.)


Chocolate Sauce

This is the best chocolate sauce ever. It will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks. It is a huge hit in our house, especially as a dipping sauce for berry kebabs - a really simple dessert. Pack berries on kebab sticks, arrange the kebabs on platters with a bowl of the chocolate sauce and let everyone help themselves.
  • 250mls water
  • 100g of sugar
  • 160g golden syrup
  • 75g cocoa powder
  • 60g dark chocolate broken up in small pieces
Put all ingredients except the chocolate in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted. When cool, store in the fridge.


Arctic Rolls

These retro rolls are my new big thing. I wasn't around when they were first in vogue - but like all things of the 1950s, their time has come around again. I am not reinventing the arctic roll - just reminding you of its existence. Honestly, who could pass up a delicious, light sponge, slathered with homemade jam and filled with good creamy ice-cream? The trailblazers of taste can let their imagination run wild on the flavour front. The great thing about this classic is that it can be squirrelled away in the freezer to be produced with aplomb on the day of the big party and is such a crowd pleaser.

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4eggs
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 100g flour
  • Filling 
  • 500ml tub of good raspberry ice-cream
  • 3 generous tbsp of good quality raspberry jam
Preheat an oven to 170 degrees/gas 3. Start off by making the sponge. Line a 23x32cm Swiss roll tin with parchment paper. Sieve the flour and cocoa powder together. Put the sugar and eggs into bowl and whisk with an electric beater until pale and thick - this will take about five to seven minutes. Using a metal spoon, gently fold the sieved flour and cocoa into the egg mixture, then turn the mixture into the tin. Level it out and bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool for an hour or so.

Take the ice-cream out of the freezer and leave it to soften slightly. When it is completely cold, turn the sponge onto a sheet of kitchen foil. Generously spread the raspberry jam all over the sponge, then spoon the ice-cream in a thick row in the centre of the sponge, leaving a few centimetres at the edges free of ice-cream. Then, using the tinfoil, roll the sponge so that the long edges of the sponge meet, leaving the ice-cream in the middle. Seal the tinfoil tightly on top and at the ends, so you have a long, sausage-shaped roll. Return it to the freezer for a minimum of four hours before serving. This will keep in the freezer for a month or so.

When you want to serve it, take it out of the freezer five or 10 mins beforehand. Unwrap your arctic roll and slice it using a hot knife. Serve with chocolate sauce and raspberries.