IT’S DECEMBER!!!! Finally, the most wonderful time of the year has arrived.. ooohhhmyyyygaaaawwdd I absolutely love the count down to Christmas.
Anyone who knows me KNOWS how much I look forward to Christmas… usually starting from about October time if I’m honest, but I have to say, being excited way back then DOES NOT compare to the excitement I have in December!
Christmas for me is definitely about family, friends and the traditions I get excited for year after year. I always love to plan things way in advance, like table decorations… I normally make little gingerbread place names, although I might change that up for this year. I just lurrve making things look as pretty and as Christmassy as possible, it’s just how I am, this is also something I love to apply within my bakes.
Okay, so I have to admit, as much as I think Christmas just isn’t Christmas without them, I’m not the biggest fan of mince pies. I so wish I could like them, but anything containing the richness of sultanas and currents just isn’t for me. This of course doesn’t stop me from making them, I do! But I like to make something similar that I can also enjoy. This year I’ve basically gone and put my fave thing ever into a little pie. These are my salted orange caramel millionaire pies.. they’re the perfect alternative the classics and I think just as festive!
Can I just say how much fun I had making these! Spending the day baking these oh so indulgent treats whilst listening to Micheal Buble’s Christmas album is my idea of heaven. I also sent myself on a fun little expedition, taking to the woods to photograph.. I already had a particular log in mind (weird?).
If you fancy giving these beauties a go, do it! It is Christmas after all! Here’s the recipe…
You will need…
For the pastry:
– 100g Unsalted Butter- cold from the fridge
– 175g Plain Flour
– 25g Icing sugar
– 1 Egg yolk
– 1 tbsp Icy (or really cold) water
– The zest of 1 orange
For the caramel:
– 80ml Water
– 250g Golden caster sugar
– 1 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
– 120ml Double cream
– 25g Unsalted butter
– A good pinch of Sea Salt (taste this until you LOVE it- I actually put about 5 pinches of salt)
-Juice of half an orange
For the chocolate ganache:
– 200g Quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
– 25g Unsalted butter
– 250ml Double cream
– Pinch of sea salt
Wow I wrote all of those measurements from memory.. I’m well pleased with that!
Let us bake!
– Let’s start with the pastry! First place the butter, icing sugar and flour in a bowl and mix with your hands until combined and looks like breadcrumbs. Little tip: the mix needs to be as cold as possible so I always wash my hands in freezing cold water.
– Add the zest of the orange, the egg yolk and water and mix together with a butter knife till the mixture clumps together, then bring together into a ball with your hands. Cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.
– Meanwhile let’s make the caramel. In a saucepan place the water and sugar and simmer on a high heat until bubbles start to form on top and it has turned a lovely golden colour- this may take around 2-3 minutes (you don’t need to stir- in fact try not to, you can swirl round using the pan at the end). Then take it off of the heat and add the cream, vanilla and butter- whisk until combined. Add the salt and taste until you’re happy with it, then squeeze the orange and stir in. Set aside to cool and thicken. (This recipe makes quite a bit more caramel than you may need, I like to pour into a jar and use over ice-cream or in another pudding like an apple crumble.
– At this point I would take the pastry out of the fridge so that it’s not too stiff to roll out when it comes to it.
– Make the ganache by heating the cream in a saucepan on a medium heat just until hot enough to melt the chocolate- make sure the cream doesn’t boil.
– Once hot enough take the cream off of the heat and add the chocolate and butter, mix until everything is melted. Add a pinch of salt and then leave to cool.
– Preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 6). Grease a muffin tin with butter.
– Roll out the pastry to about half a cm thick then cut out each circle with a round pastry cutter (or find a glass big enough like I did) and place each one in the prepared tray making sure the pastry’s properly pressed into the corners.
– Line each pie with foil or baking paper and fill with baking beans (or you could use rice) and blind bake for about ten to fifteen minutes.
– Whilst they’re baking, use a festive cutter- I used a snowflake cutter which I got from Ebay for like £1- and place on a lined baking tray.
– Remove the pies from the oven and remove the foil and baking beans. Check the bottoms of the pies to make sure they are nice and golden and baked all the way through. Remove all the pie cases from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
– Bake the snowflakes for about 3 minutes- just keep checking them because you don’t want them to burn. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
– Once all the pastry is cool you can start to fill! Half fill each little pie with caramel and then place in the fridge so that the caramel firms up slightly. Then spoon in a generous amount of the chocolate ganache and smooth to the edges with a spatula. Top with the pastry snowflakes and dust with a snowy dusting of icing sugar.
Oh my gosh! I wrote all of that from memory too, I didn’t even look at my notes.. that’s when you know you’ve done too much baking, impressive though.
I have LOVED doing this festive little post, there will for sure be more to come! Don’t forget I would love to hear from anyone who reads my posts, so don’t be scared to comment below. Happy December everyone!