Friday 27 August 2010

Daring Bakers August 2010 Challenge: Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This month we were required to make a brown butter pound cake and some ice cream of our choice and turn it into either baked alaska or petit fours. I had never had frozen ice cream cake petit fours before and so this was my dessert of choice.

As we experimented with ice cream in last months Daring Bakers challenge I wanted to do something different this month. I remembered a recipe for instant banana ice cream that I read about a few months back and decided now would be the perfect time to test it out, especially as I had yet more overripe bananas in the fruit bowl! The method is surprisingly simple yet yields delicious results. You freeze chunks of banana and then blitz them (still frozen) in a food processor with a little yoghurt and syrup and within seconds – ta da – instant smooth and creamy frozen banana cream that has the taste and texture of ice cream! You can eat it straight out the bowl or freeze it for later. It’s ingenious and fantastically bananary, not to mention healthy. I really recommend you give it a go.

I was also pleased to try out the brown butter cake recipe we were given, as I’d never made one of these myself. It turned out very well and produced a very light, springy and golden coloured cake with a nutty overtone. I also added a mix of cinnamon, ginger and freshly grated nutmeg to mine which I thought would complement the nuttiness as well as the banana ice cream.

Everything was going well until it came to the glaze. Rather than use the recipe provided I decided to make a glaze I have done in the past for profiteroles. I’m not sure what happened but one minute I had smooth glossy sauce and then next it was too thick and gloopy. I used it anyway, but it refused to coat the petit fours properly so instead I just spooned some over the top and let it drizzle over the sides a bit. They still ended up looking pretty, but not the elegant sophisticated petit fours I was hoping for. As a result I’m not giving you the glaze recipe I made, but I have written the glaze recipe provided below for anyone who wants to make these. Note to self: sometimes things are best left un-meddled.

I loved the taste and texture of these little bites. The spiced nutty cake and banana ice cream were a great match and the glossy dark chocolate glaze left you with a rich cocoa taste that tasted delicious as it mingled with the melting banana cream.

Thanks Elissa for choosing such a great challenge. Click to see a list of my fellow Daring Bakers and what they did with their cake and ice cream.

Spiced Brown Butter Pound Cake & Instant Banana Ice Cream Petit Fours
Spiced Brown Butter Pound Cake
275g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
110g light brown sugar
75g caster sugar
4 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
(I also added 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger and ¼ tsp nutmeg)

Preheat the oven to 165C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9inch/23cm square pan.
Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty – but you don’t want black and burnt. Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-20 minutes.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt (and spices if using).
Beat the cooled brown butter, light brown sugar, and caster sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Instant Banana Ice Cream
3 bananas
150g yoghurt
1 tbsp honey, glucose or golden syrup

Ahead of time, peel the bananas and cut them into rough chunks. Place in a plastic bag and freeze them until solid.
Place the chunks of frozen banana in a food processor and blitz to break the bananas into smaller pieces. Add the yoghurt and honey/syrup and blitz again until smooth and creamy. (Adding the syrup helps prevent ice crystals from forming during freezing).
Eat straight away or spread the mixture into a clingfilm lined pan the same size as your cake, if making petit fours and freeze until firm.

Assembly of Ice Cream Petit Fours
Line a 9inch/23cm pan with clingfilm, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides.
Take the brown butter pound cake and level the top with a serrated knife if needed. Then cut the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers. Place one of these layers into the base of the lined pan.
Remove the ice cream from the freezer, lift it out of the pan with the help of the cling film and place it on top of the base layer of cake. Top with the second layer of cake, wrap well in clingfilm and return to the freezer overnight.
Make the chocolate glaze (your own recipe or see below)
While the glaze cools, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut it into 4cm squares. You can trim the edges first if needed.
Place the ice cream cake squares on tray lined with a sheet of greaseproof to help clean up later.
Glaze the petit fours one at a time by dipping/coating them in the chocolate glaze. Use a spoon or fork to help you. Place a petit four on the tines of a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
Place the petit fours on the greaseproof lined tray and freezer for an hour. Allow to st at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe Provided
250ml whole milk
A pinch of salt
165g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 2tsp vanilla extract
500ml double cream
5 large egg yolks
1-3 tsp vanilla extract (see method)
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2 litre bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour a quarter of the warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 tsp if you are using a vanilla bean or 3 tsp if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. Click to see instructions from David Lebovitz.

Chocolate Glaze Recipe Provided
250g dark chocolate, finely chopped
250ml double cream
1½ tbsp light corn syrup/golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
Stir the cream and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Banana & Caramel Cheeseless Yoghurt Cheesecake

This cheeseless cheesecake was a bit of an experiment. I was eating some very thick Total Greek yoghurt and thinking how it was so lusciously thick and creamy that it was almost the texture of cream cheese. I then began to wonder whether it could be used in a recipe in place of cream cheese and naturally my first through for a cream cheese rich recipe was cheesecake.

I decided that if I was going to experiment with a cheeseless cheesecake then I didn’t want it to be your run of the mill cheesecake. I had three ripe bananas sitting on the side so decided to incorporate them into the cheesecake along with some dulce de leche caramel to make a sort of banoffee style dessert. I spread the caramel on top of the biscuit base, topped this off with slices of banana and then poured over the yoghurty topping which I’d flavoured with lots of mashed banana and a little cinnamon and finally a few more blobs of caramel.

The Greek yoghurt behaved well in the mixing of the dessert and I put it into the oven with hopes that it would bake and set, although I admit I was a little doubtful it wouldn’t collapse and try and seep out the tin or just remain liquid. However, I needn’t have worried as it baked perfectly. I took it out when it was lightly golden and puffy around the edges and still retained a gentle wobble in the centre. It levelled off into a perfectly smooth surface as it cooled. I loved how the extra little blobs of caramel were peeping out here and there, I could hardly wait for its overnight chill in the fridge before tasting it.

I can safely say the taste was worth the wait. It cut into perfect creamy slices and had a wonderful texture, creamy and thick as with all cheesecakes, but someone lighter. The biscuit base had remained firm and crunchy thanks to its covering of caramel and the slices of banana added a nice texture contrast to the mashed banana in the filling and the crisp base. There was a slight hint of cinnamon which complemented the other flavours wonderfully without being obviously cinnamony. Delicious.

I hadn’t told my family what I was doing and after serving them all slices and watching them gobble it up they couldn’t believe it when I told them there was no cream cheese involved. Its taste is so indulgent and satisfying that you would never guess it was made with Greek yoghurt. Even using the full fat Greek yoghurt there is only 130kcal and 10g fat per 100g compared to the cream cheese which has 240kcal and 23g fat per 100g – that’s nearly double the calories and nearly 2.5 times more fat compared to the yoghurt!! So next time you fancy a rich and creamy indulgent cheesecake why not try reaching for the Greek yoghurt instead of the cream cheese? I know I’ve been converted!

Banana & Caramel Cheeseless Yoghurt Cheesecake
(An Apple & Spice recipe creation)
190g digestive biscuits
75g butter
500g full fat Greek yoghurt (I used Total)
50g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp cornflour
50ml double cream
1 tsp cinnamon
3 bananas
½ tin (180g) dulce de leche caramel

Preheat the oven to 180C. Have a 7inch/18cm deep springform tin to hand.
Crush the digestive biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits and mix until they are well coated. Press the mixture into the base of the tin and place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut two of the bananas into 5mm thick slices and warm the dulce de leche slightly in the microwave to make it more spreadable – it does not need to be hot or runny.
Remove the base from the fridge and spread over the dulce de leche. Cover with a layer of sliced bananas and return to the fridge while you prepare the topping.
Mix the sugar and cornflour together and place into a large bowl. Add the yoghurt and cream and beat until combined.
Mash the remaining banana and any leftover banana slices until very mushy. Add to the yoghurt mix along with the cinnamon and eggs. Beat well until everything is well combined – it won’t go completely smooth because of the banana.
Pour the yoghurt banana mixture over the top of the chilled base. Blob a few spoonfuls of the dulce de leche on top and swirl into the mix.
Place the tin on a baking tray and bake for 50-55 minutes. The cheesecake will have puffed up and turned lightly golden around the edges. It should still have a little wobbly in the centre when gently shaken, but not actually be liquid.
Allow to cool completely in the tin before refrigerating for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight before serving.
To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin and release from the ring.
Serves 8-10

Sunday 15 August 2010

Cinnamon Choc Chip Yoghurt Scones

These are delicious scones and so easy to make. They make use of Greek yoghurt in place of buttermilk and eggs and result in a lovely soft and tender scones. I decided to flavour them with some dark chocolate chips and cinnamon which is a combination I love – well I love anything with cinnamon as I’m sure you know but dark chocolate works particularly well with cinnamon.

I often cut my scones into rounds, probably because this is the most traditional way and recognised shape for a scone, but as I was jazzing up the scones I chose to jazz up the shape too and cut them into triangles.

As I was glazing them with a little milk I hit upon the idea of sprinkling the tops with cinnamon sugar, which gave them a wonderful thin cinnamon sugar crust, which added a slight crunch and a good burst of sweet cinnamon flavour to the finished scones.

The scones are baked in a very hot oven, hotter than I would normally consider but I’m sure this helped the scones be extra light and tender as they puffed up and browned quickly, without being in long enough to dry out the middles – and nobody likes dried out scones. Look at all the fluffy layers and little air bubbles.

These were delicious when eaten warm from the oven, I ate my first one plain, enjoying the taste of the still molten chocolate chips, and then had another one later on with Nutella. If you are not going to eat them all within 12 hours, I would suggest freezing them and then perking them up again in the oven as scones are best eaten fresh. They make a tasty and relatively healthy breakfast too!

Cinnamon Choc Chip Yoghurt Scones
(An Apple & Spice recipe creation)
450g plain flour
25g caster sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
50g cold butter
150g 2% fat Greek yoghurt (I used Total)
125-150ml milk
50g dark chocolate chips
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Cinnamon Topping
20g caster sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Milk to glaze

Preheat the oven to 250C (yes it sounds hot!) and have a baking tray to hand.
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour mixture using the tips of your fingers. Lift your fingers up above the bowl as you rub in the butter, letting the crumbs fall back into the bowl. Continue until all the butter has been evenly distributed and some small crumbly clumps have formed.
Add the chocolate chips, yoghurt and half the milk. Use a round bladed knife to mix everything together until it stars to form a dough. Add a little more milk as necessary, then bring the mixture together using your hands. You want a soft but not too sticky dough. Don’t knead it like dough though as this makes it tough.
Turn the scone mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat or gently roll it out into a large circle, about 1inch/2.5cm thick.
Cut the dough into 8-12 triangles – depending on how big you want your scones.
Brush the tops with a little milk to glaze and help the cinnamon sugar stick to them.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping together and then scatter it over the top of the milk brushed scones.
Transfer the scones to a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes. (8 for smaller scones, 10 for larger ones)
Once baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly and eat while still warm.
Delicious served with honey or Nutella or just some good butter.
Makes 8-12 scones

Thursday 12 August 2010

TOTAL Overload of Greek Yoghurt

I love yoghurt, it’s probably my main source of dairy intake. I eat it almost every day – on my cereal, with fruit and served with desserts instead of cream. So, when I was asked if I would like to try some free samples of TOTAL Greek Yoghurt I was more than happy to accept. I was expecting 1 or 2 pots to turn up and so it was a great surprise to open the door a few days later and be presented with two bulging bags full of yoghurts, I couldn’t believe it.

The yoghurts are all Greek yoghurts but they are available in different levels of fat content – normal/full fat, 2% fat and 0% fat. They come in either 500g tubs or 170-200g individual pots and I had been sent two pots of each variety - talk about generous! There were also some nifty little honey and yoghurt combo snack pots which I thought were a great idea as Greek yoghurt drizzled with a little honey is a lovely combination.

After my excitement and some military style fridge rearrangement, I started off with a simple tasting of each of the different varieties to compare flavours and textures between the full fat, 2% and 0% fat varieties.

Full Fat – Very thick and creamy in appearance with a set texture. It held its shape well on the spoon and had the lusciously thick texture of clotted cream. When tasting, it was thick and dense and coated your tongue. The initial taste was slightly sharp and sour but this quickly turned to a very clean and fresh milky taste. It had a very good creamy aftertaste which lasted a long time. Very indulgent.

2% Fat – Quite thick and creamy in appearance, but slightly looser/wetter texture. It held its shape well but a little liquid gathered on the spoon. It had a lighter texture in the mouth, still creamy but it dissolved pleasantly on the tongue. Less sour than the full fat version, with a very fresh milky flavour. A creamy aftertaste although less sensation left in the mouth.

0% Fat – Wetter and softer in appearance, although it still held its shape on the spoon. A little liquid gathered on the spoon, although no more than the 2% variety. It had a very light and creamy texture, similar to fromage frais. There was no sour taste but it was still very fresh and milky. It didn’t really coat the tongue but still left a milky clean aftertaste. Soft in texture, almost whipped. Would be good for stirring into cereals.

After the enjoyment of tasting, I began to get worried about what I could do with so much yoghurt. I soon decided to do what I always do whenever I have an excess of something – to cook with it. TOTAL had also sent me a little selection of recipes and I decided to try one of theirs and then create some of my own.

Whenever I’m not eating cereal for breakfast, I often have porridge and so the recipe for porridge made with yoghurt instead of milk caught my eye and was the first recipe I decided to try.

You make the porridge using water instead of milk and cook it in the same way. Then, towards the end you stir in 1-2tbsp of the yoghurt of your choice, heat again briefly and serve. I would never have thought of doing this, but it turned out to be delicious and produced such a creamy flavour and texture that it made standard porridge seem very indulgent. I used the 2% fat variety and if I hadn’t made it myself I would have thought it had been made with cream, it was great to know it was so healthy. There was a slightly sticky texture to the oats, which I assume comes from heating the yoghurt, but I like my porridge quite thick so this suited me. It didn’t taste yoghurty at all, just milky and creamy. I topped it with a handful of blackcurrants that I had heated briefly to make them release their juices and it made for a very tasty breakfast. I’ve made this again on several mornings this week and it works well with all sorts of toppings.

Next I decided to experiment with the yoghurts in baking. I was thinking of possibly trying to make some kind of soda bread, but as I was flicking through a recipe book I came to a section on scones and settled on those instead. I started off with a plain scone recipe and then adapted it to suit the qualities of the 2% fat yoghurt as well as adding some of my favourite flavours. I ended up with these Cinnamon Choc Chip Greek Yoghurt Scones which were so light and tender – delicious. (Recipe to follow)

Finally I decided to make a dessert using TOTAL’s full fat Greek yoghurt variety. Its texture was so thick and creamy that I had even been spreading it on bread like cream cheese and it got me wondering whether it would be possible to use it in a recipe like cream cheese too. It was a bit of a gamble as I wasn’t sure it would work, but if this cheesecake is anything to go by then I can safely say – ‘yes it can!’ Here we have a Caramel Banana Cheese-less Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake!! The taste and texture of normal cheesecake only with a lot less fat – it was gorgeous. (Recipe to follow)

I had such a lot of fun tasting and experimenting with all the yoghurt – thank you TOTAL for being so generous and for enabling me to explore the greater uses of Greek Yoghurt.

Friday 6 August 2010

Soft & Chewy Sourdough Pretzels

Recently I have been hankering after pretzels. I don’t mean those small dried crispy kind, but the big, doughy, wonderfully chewy kind. The only problem is that they don’t seem to exist in the UK (apart from maybe in London which isn’t exactly nearby). I’ve only ever had two, what I consider, genuine pretzels – once in Germany on a school exchange trip and one last year in Chicago. They were so good and I’ve been longing to taste one again but although I’ve searched, I’ve never found one. On reflection though this could be a good thing as mass produced pretzels in the UK would probably result in some horrible dry cardboard tasting pretzel shaped bread – sort of like our bagels. A dense piece of bread with a hole it in, that has to be toasted to be edible, isn’t a proper bagel people – unless you’ve tasted freshly made genuine bagels you don’t understand the pure joy of a true bagel – again I have America envy. Ok, enough about bagels (but grrr it does annoy me) anyway back to pretzels. Unable to get my pretzel fix I decided the only option left was to make them myself.

I spent an interesting few hours sifting through many pretzel recipes online and finally settled on one by Alton Brown which had good reviews. Of course me being me I decided to adjust the recipe slightly to make use of my sourdough starter which I started a few months back.

The dough came together well and was quite sticky before its prebaking swim in a pot of boiling water. This is the same technique used for bagels; it tightens the gluten in the flour and results in a wonderfully chewy texture and glossy appearance.

Some of my pretzels came out a little misshaped but this made each one unique and obviously homemade which I loved. Once baked I took a bite and was rewarded with the taste and texture I had been hankering after for so long. A crisp golden surface and a soft, chewy interior with little hits of saltiness from the sea salt on top. Heaven!

I ate my first one dipping it in mustard – a tip I was shown in Chicago and then another one split in half and filled with a little cheese for lunch. The only problem is I was so excited about how they tasted like ‘real’ pretzels that I made my family taste them too and now there’s none left! Better go make some more…

Soft & Chewy Sourdough Pretzels
(Modified from pretzel recipe by Alton Brown)
200g sourdough starter
250ml warm water
475g strong white bread flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp salt
50g unsalted butter

Pre-baking liquid
2.5 litres water
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda

To glaze
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
Coarse sea salt

*If you want to make non sourdough pretzels then add an extra 100ml water, 100g flour and 7g dried yeast.

Combine the water, sugar, flour, sourdough starter and salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter and drizzle this over the top.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to start to bring everything together but then switch to your hands when it gets thicker. Mix the dough well, kneading it as well as you can until it begins to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 5-8 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and tacky to the touch rather than wet and sticky.
Lightly oil a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 – 1½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 230C. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper and set aside. Bring the 2.5 litres of water and the bicarbonate of soda to a rolling boil in large saucepan.
Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a long rope, about 2 foot long/60cm. Make an upside down U-shape with the rope, holding each end in your hands. Cross the ends over each other twice, holding them above the bottom of the U. Then take the ends and press them into the base of the U to form a pretzel shape. Place them on the baking tray while you shape them all.
Lift each pretzel and place it gently, but quickly, into the pan of boiling water. Only do one at a time. It will sink to the bottom of the pan but after 30 seconds it should rise up and float to the top. Lift out using a large spatula and repeat with the rest of the pretzels. (This is what makes them lovely and chewy. They should be a little firmer and slightly glossy in appearance).
Beat the egg yolk and water together and brush over the tops of each pretzel. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until a rich golden brown colour.
Once baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before enjoying warm – either on their own, dipped in mustard or split in half and filled.
Makes 8 large chewy pretzels
Note: Click here to see a video on how to shape pretzels. Here they’re making cookies, but technique applies to dough pretzels too.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Spiced Plum & Apple Chutney

I love this time of year. The weather is warm, the tress and green and dotted around the countryside there is always something growing. We’ve had strawberries and blackcurrants and this month is time for ripe juicy plums.

A short walk from my house is a little woodland lane which is lined on either side with wild self set plum trees. Walking along it recently I spotted there were three trees whose plums were ready and ripe for the picking. I always carry a bag of some sort with me for just such instantaneous-food-gathering occasions and within a few minutes I had gathered a good couple of kilos of red purple plums.

I’m not sure what variety they were as some were glossy red, others a dusky purple, some were teeny tiny while others were more substantial. There was no way I would be able to eat this many plums myself so I decided to turn them into a spiced plum and apple chutney.

I love making jams and chutneys, they allow you to capture and preserve the flavour of the fruits/veg to be enjoyed later in the year once the weather has turned dark and gloomy. Opening a new jar provides a little taste of summer and can be enjoyed for months afterwards.

This particular chutney has a slightly spiced edge which goes wonderfully with strong cheese or a slice on onion pie. Apparently it’s also good with meats too – although I can’t speak from personal experience in this case. Allow it to mature for a few weeks before opening by which time the vinegar twang will have settled down and the flavours will have mingled and developed. I plan to save a couple of jars back and give them away as Christmas gifts later in the year. A great way to use up a glut of plums.

Spiced Plum & Apple Chutney
(Recipe adapted from an old Waitrose Food Illustrated Magazine)
1.5kg plums
1 large Bramley apple
3 onions
1 tbsp freshly grated root ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 fresh chilli
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
350g light muscavado sugar
400ml apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
25 grinds freshly milled black pepper
1 tsp sea salt

Start by removing the stones from the plums. I found the easiest way to do this was to simply push down on the top of the plum with my fingers, which splits the plum in half and then allowed me to remove the stone. You don’t need to chop them at all. Place the plums in a bowl to collect any juice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Peel and finely dice the onion, apple and chilli. You want the onion to be quite small as this will be present in the finished chutney but the apple will turn to mush so this is less important.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, fresh ginger, garlic, chilli and spices. Sauté gently for 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not browned.
Add the plums and apple and any fruit juice to the pan. Stir in the salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar and continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, place the lid on and leave to cook for 1½ - 2hours, but stirring often to ensure it doesn’t stick and burn to the base of the pan as it thickens.
Set a timer and stir every 30 minutes for the first hour, then again after 20 minutes. By this time it should be very thick so stir every 5 minutes until its ready.
When ready, the chutney should be thick, sticky and dark red brown in colour. You should be able to draw a spoon over the base of the pan and see the metal underneath without it filling up with chutney immediately.
After the first 1½ hours, place 4-5 clean jam jars and their lids in the oven and heat to 150C to sterilise them. Do not remove them from the oven until you are ready to fill them with chutney.
Once ready, remove the jars from the oven and fill them with the hot chutney. Screw the lids on tightly, using rubber gloves to prevent you burning your hands.
Leave to cool down before labelling and storing in a cool dark place for at least 3 weeks before using. The chutney needs time to mature and mellow before eating. If eaten straight away the vinegar will be quite harsh. Keeps well for up to 18months.
Makes 4-5 jars.