August, and the height of the summer weather-wise: at least it certainly is here in the south, and hopefully the whole country will have enough of it for at least some of the time so all of us will be able to feel a little sun on our faces and into our hearts… That sounds unusually soppy for me, but I really do think we need and deserve a bit of hope after this strange and unhappy few months.
I know body weight is firmly on the agenda now that we realise how important it is to keep in reasonable shape, not only for all the usual reasons but also to protect us against the worst aspects of the virus, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have treats from time to time. I’ve always believed that too drastic a diet is almost impossible to keep up over any length of time, and as long as sweet, fat-filled food is kept very much for special occasions it can certainly be enjoyed and appreciated. And if ever we needed cheering up…..
Well this month’s recipe is definitely in the category of special treats… Condensed milk alone is incredibly sweet - but oh my! how delicious it is… And turned by heat into a golden, thick caramel and teamed with some pastry, banana and whipped cream it becomes irresistible… One of those classic recipes that make one glad to be alive.
I was inspired to make this by seeing Dulce de Leche (the caramel sauce that’s traditionally used in a Banoffee Pie) on the shelf of my local supermarket for the first time, but when I got home and tried it I didn’t think it tasted quite right, and not as good as I remembered it… so I decided to make my own.
The original way of doing it was to boil up an unopened tin of condensed milk until it turned into caramel, but I’ve always been a bit nervous of doing that and they do say it’s not really considered to be that safe. Seems to me that, delicious though it is, making Dulce de Leche is not worth risking blowing up the kitchen (or at least covering it with sticky toffee) so I went another route, which is really not difficult and makes exactly the same thing. I expect there are other brands in the shops which would be perfectly good, and that would certainly save time and a small amount of effort, so I shall keep my eye out for one that I like as much as this home made one.
I’m also giving you a couple of little ideas for using up surplus pastry and/or whipped cream and caramel.
I do hope you are all keeping well and managing to get out and see some friends and go shopping again - it does help to remind us that there is life after lockdown… long may it continue. I’ll be back at the beginning of September with some ideas for school - definitely healthier ones than today’s! Love Jane x
- 1 pack Jane Asher Pastry Mix
- 80g castor sugar
- 397g tin condensed milk (or a jar of ready-made Dulce de Leche)
- 3-4 medium sized bananas
- 300ml double cream
- a little cocoa powder for dusting, or a small piece of dark chocolate
Pre-heat the oven to 225C/210C fan/425F/Gas 7.
Pour the condensed milk into a casserole or pie dish.
Put it into a larger dish or roasting pan and pour water in to come about 2/3rds of the way up the pie dish.
Cover the pie dish tightly with foil. Bake for 60-90 minutes, topping up the water as necessary, until the milk has reached a golden brown colour.
Allow it to cool a little then stir well with a fork. If there are still some lumps then you may need to whizz it with a hand blender to make it smooth. Then allow the caramel to cool completely.
Meanwhile make the pastry case. Preheat oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan assisted oven)/400ºF/Gas 6. Make up the pastry as directed, but mix in the sugar before adding the water. Roll out thinly.
Use the pastry to line an 18-20cm tart tin - leave an overlap round the edges to allow the pastry to shrink back as it cooks.
Prick the bottom with a fork, then line with baking paper and fill with baking beans.
Bake blind for 15 mins, then gently trim the edge and remove the beans and paper
Bake for a further 5-10 minutes, then allow to cool completely. Whip the cream until just thickened enough to hold its shape - don’t over whip as it’ll thicken a little more as you spread it
Spoon the caramel into the pastry case.
Then add the banana, cut quite thickly (2-3cm), until the bottom of the pie is filled.
Top with the cream, then sieve a little cocoa powder over the top - or grate a little dark chocolate instead.
Chill before serving.
Fruit Tartlets - to use up left-over pastry and cream
Roll out the pastry trimmings.
Cut circles large enough to line the holes in a cupcake tin and push the pastry into the holes.
Prick the bottoms with a fork, then line with baking paper circles and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for around 10 minutes.
Remove the paper and beans, fill with some whipped cream and top with fruit.
Caramel Cream Cupcakes - to use up left-over cream and caramel
Make some cupcakes (the JA sponge mix will make 18-24 delicious ones – ignore the fact it says it makes 12 on the packet: that’s my fault and I’ve changed it now for the reprint of the packaging!).
Cut shapes out of the top of the cakes and fill with caramel.
Top the cakes with piped whipped cream, then, using a small plain nozzle, pipe some more caramel onto the cream.