Monday, 20 December 2021

Creamy Baked Brie and Fig Jam Puff Pastry Bites

 

 At this time of year leading up to Christmas, a predinner canape or starter which partners beautifully with a cold glass of bubbly, is just what we need. The silly season is underway. These bites can be prepared and cooked in the cool of the morning and stored in the refrigerator, and then just reheated and crisped up for 5 minutes in a hot oven before the party. In the Northern Hemisphere, avoiding the heat at this time of year isn't a consideration is it? Cook these just before the party and watch them disappear before your eyes. I can't buy reasonably priced figs so I buy my fig jam, a little indulgence, but well worth it. We have a fig tree growing, but when it decides to produce some figs, I doubt there will be enough for jam, we will be eating them fresh. I've made a few batches of these puff pastry bites, and each time the shapes are slightly inconsistent when cooked, which is the nature of puff pastry, but that doesn't matter. They do such a disappearing act, that nobody notices anyway. Who doesn't love puff pastry with a delicious filling?

I first saw this recipe on Sammie@the Annoyed Thyroid's blog, and after a few little changes, they have been a favourite of mine to bake ever since.

Makes 24

Ingredients:

2 sheets butter puff pastry, defrosted

24 teaspoons fig jam

200 g brie, chopped into 2 cm pieces with rind left on

Method:

Preheat oven to 190 deg. C

Grease two, 12 hole mini muffin trays, the easiest way is with spray on olive oil

Cut each pastry sheet into 12 rectangles. 

Then very carefully, using two fingers (second and third) gently press the pastry rectangles into the muffin holes. Be careful your nails don't pierce the pastry, it is quite soft.The pastry needs to cover the sides of the muffin hole.

Then prick the base a few times with a fork, so that the pastry doesn't puff up when it cooks. We want the sides to puff up, but not the base.

 Bake for 12 minutes in your hot oven.

Carefully take the hot muffin trays from the oven, and lightly press down the base of the pastry. It will have  risen slightly.

Start filling the pastries with the cheese bits. Press the cheese down lightly into the centre to fill the recess. Top with enough of a teaspoon of fig jam, so that the jam is encased in the pastry, not running over the edge.

Place the trays back in the oven, and bake for another 5 minutes, still at 190 deg. C., until the pastry is golden, and the cheese has melted. They will look and taste delicious.

Carefully remove the pastries from the muffin tins with a knife, and place on a nice serving plate, or allow to cool and store covered in the refrigerator.

 Cook's Tip:

  • These little beauties will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days, however they never last in our home for that long. They can be kept in the refrigerator, and then you are always ready for impromptu get togethers with family and friends, with minimal effort.
  • I recommend you buy the best puff pastry you can, preferably made with butter.
  • Serve with finely chopped chives sprinkled over the plate, for a little extra colour and subtle flavour.

In this lead up to Christmas there can be a lot of hustle and bustle and pressure to get everything done in time. I'm staying away from the shops as much as possible, mask wearing is now mandatory here again, which is a wake up call that Covid is back in our community. So I think throughout all of this, it is important to be kind to ourselves, and to our family and friends, and to think simply. 

This will be my last post until after Christmas. Thank you to my friends who regularly read my blog, and inspire me with your comments,  it is always a pleasure to hear from you and to read your posts as well. I hope you all enjoy a festive and meaningful Christmas, with those you love, and that the New Year will bring health, happiness and good news. 


Warmest wishes,

Pauline



















Thursday, 16 December 2021

Christmas Rum Balls and Chocolate Rum Truffles

 

Fragrant and sweet, Rum Balls are a Christmas tradition in our family, and I can't imagine Christmas without a batch of these in the refrigerator to enjoy on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. However it's never too early to eat them. Rum balls are the quintessential Christmas treat. They can be served as a dessert, for afternoon tea, or as an edible gift.

 Weet-bix made by the Sanitarium Health Food Company, and incidentally 97 % whole grain and low in sugar, are often a standard cereal packet to be found in most Australian household pantries. The slogan on the packet reads, "Aussie kids are Weet-bix kids".  At the bottom of every large weet-bix box or packet in the pantry, you will find some crushed biscuits and crumbs which have fallen to the bottom. These are great to use for rum balls. 3 crushed weet-bix are the equivalent to 1 cup of crushed biscuits if you want to use some of those for your rum balls.  By the way this post isn't an ad for Weet-bix, but it is a very versatile and healthy cereal.

I've increased the amount of rum in this recipe this year, no surprise there say my friends. I've almost doubled it in fact.  J & D called in for a cuppa a couple of weeks ago and I had just made my first batch of Christmas Rum Balls. After a taste test, Mr. HRK and J & D thought they were delicious, but all agreed that more rum was needed. So I've taken note, and this batch has the spirit of Christmas in each delectable mouthful. Just halve the amount of rum if you wish though, they will still be delicious, and this goes without saying of course if they are being eaten by children as well. We only drink and cook with Bundy rum in our part of the world, a Queensland spirit which has its origins in the sugar cane fields grown around Bundaberg, since 1869. The Bundaberg Rum Distillery and museum are still open, offering tours to the public almost daily. This is on our list of things to do when we start travelling south again.

Roll these little balls  in coconut or chocolate sprinkles, I like to do a batch of both. We are just home after a small holiday up North, and so now it's time for some traditional Christmas cooking.

Ingredients for Christmas Rum Balls:

10 Weet-Bix Cereal biscuits
1 packet glace cherries, finely chopped
395 g can sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons Queensland Bundaberg Rum
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup raisins (chop them up if you wish, I don't anymore)
1 cup desiccated coconut 

Method:

Makes 40

Crush weet-bix with your hands for a bit of crunch, or crush finely in your food processor. 
.Finely chop cherries. Mix together all ingredients except coconut. 

Place mixture in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or even overnight to allow the flavours to infuse the fruit. If you have the time, the rum can be poured over just the fruit in a covered bowl, to macerate overnight, before adding to the rest of the mixture. 

Place coconut in a separate bowl when you are ready to assemble the rum balls.


Remove weet-bix mixture from the refrigerator, and using a small biscuit scoop, remove scoops of mixture and roll into balls with wet hands.


Roll rum balls in coconut or chocolate sprinkles one by one, and store in the refrigerator in a covered container until ready to eat. Some coconut may infiltrate into the rum ball mixture, and that's okay.

They will keep refrigerated for a month in advance.These also freeze well..



The photo below is from a Christmas post, where I added more cocoa and used biscuits as the base. Still delicious. However my family still prefer traditional Rum Balls made with Weet-bix, they love the family traditions of Christmas.





Warmest wishes,

Pauline