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Shut your eyes – Terrine de pommes caramelisées et streusel à la cannelle

apple terrine

Dreams are tough. High maintenance.

You see after a short five-day week of work, my pile of laundry threatens to swallow my bedroom, the hair pompom I not-so carefully tie has become a knot that now has a life on its own refusing to cooperate; my bed gets shared with a Polaroid camera, the latest Nigel Slater book and more empty water bottles than I dare to admit.

And then, in the midst of this apparent chaos, I realise that what surrounds me does not match how peaceful I feel.

I’m making this for something.

Something that – to my eyes – means everything. And that spoonful of perfectly cooked apples might have something to do with all of this.

apple terrine spoon

In fact, it has everything to do with all this.

Just like a comment from a customer who loved his pumpkin crème brulée served with crème fraîche ice-cream and cinnamon streusel. Just like this idea for a new dessert that made it to one of my dreams, only to be written down on a notebook the following morning and made into a set-lunch dish the next day.

Our lives are tough. We try to solve issues. We deal with people who don’t belong there.

We take it, sometimes with ease, other times with tears or anger.

braeburn

But all this side doesn’t matter – it affects me, it might even upset me – because deep-inside I know how incredibly lucky I am. No words could describe this feeling.

On the other hand, a bite of this apple terrine would.

apple terrine side

Terrine de pommes caramelisées et streusel à la cannelle

More than a recipe, this should be read as a reminder that apples with sugar and butter taste fantastic. Especially during this season.

With a hint of cinnamon and the creaminess brought by either a dollop of thick double cream or a scoop of ice-cream, it makes for the perfect comforting dessert. The kind of them that should be eaten on a couch – preferably by a window.

Here, I served it with riz-au-lait [rice pudding] ice-cream. Because, let’s be honest, nothing can beat its glorious autumn-ness.

But basically, whether you’re planning on making ice-cream or not, just keep in mind: finely sliced apples layered with butter and sugar, baked until soft and almost caramelised. A tatin without a shell. In the end, it’s all that matters. Just like the dreams you have.

Terrine de pommes caramelisées et streusel à la cannelle

serves 4

for the apple terrine
10 braeburn apples
200g melted butter
a handful of light brown sugar, around 220-250g
granulated sugar, extra

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Peel and core the apples, then slice them as fine as you can. Set aside and line a loaf cake tin with baking paper, making sure the ends go over the edges.
Arrange the apple slices in the tin, layering them and brushing generously with melted butter and sprinkling light brown sugar as you go every now and then.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden and soft (test with a sharp knife for texture).
Press down using a cling-film wrapped piece of cardboard cut to the size of your tin, and onto which place weights.
Chill for 2 hours or more, then remove from the tin, and slice into 3cm thick slices.

Warm up each slice in a microwave or in an oven, then arrange on a plate, sprinkle with granulated sugar and caramelise using a blowtorch. Serve with cinnamon streusel and cream or ice-cream.

for the cinnamon streusel
100g butter
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking sheet with parchment. Place all the ingredients into a bowl and using your fingers, rub the butter in until sandy. Press to form a ball. Then, grate over the lined sheet using a cooling rack.
Freeze for 30 minutes.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool.

Night seems to talk to every wall – Chocolate chip cookies, like muffins

cookies like muffins

There is something about early nights that feels like magic.

It can be the glimmer of cheap ikea candles that smell of vanilla. Or the warmth of a pair of chunky mittens.

Or perhaps for you, it’s the cosiness of the blanket you’re wrapped in, while reading a book to your favourite animal; mine currently being a Portuguese-speaking guinea pig called Joseph – which I would have never thought as plausible, the liking a guinea pig that is, not the whole language compatibility issue.

joseph

I love early nights because they ooze comfort, and at times, if I’m in the mood for baking, they ooze chocolate as well.

Tonight, the house is empty and quiet. I can hear the rain hit the roof and the heater roar.

The sunset happened just three short hours after I woke up, but it feels like the day has just begun.
In short, the perfect background for the slow-motion day I have been dreaming of.

With no plan, but an empty stomach, I put some music on, preferably something by girls in Hawaii. I light up our gas oven, and mix butter with muscovado sugar, add flour and a touch of baking powder. I chop some valrhona chocolate into chunks.
Getting my hands dirty, I form little pats, put them into a muffin pan and bake.

chopped chocolate

Yes, there is something magic about early nights. It can be anything you want; wherever and whenever, as long as it’s after the dusk.

For me, it was as easy as soaking a thick and chewy cookie into a cup of hot matcha latte. The photographing part was obviously slightly more difficult, but well, no apologies needed, it’s dark outside.

cookies pola dirty

Chocolate chip cookies
I think I already have more recipes for chocolate chip cookies than needed. I went through different phases, each more successful than the previous one.

And no matter how much I digressed, I always find myself going back to this one recipe that has been sitting in my notebook for years and that somehow never appeared here.

It’s basically a one-bowl recipe that can provide perfect cookies in a matter of minutes.

You can bake them as soon as the dough is made in a muffin pan like I did here for instant gratification. But if you choose to roll them into a log, you’ll be able to freeze them for a later slice-and-bake kind of thing.

Rather evidently, you could use a little whole-wheat flour and I cannot recommend it enough. It gives the cookies a lovely earthy flavour that matches the chocolate and sea salt perfectly.

Chocolate chip cookies

180g butter, soft
80g caster sugar
260g muscovado sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
200g strong flour
4g baking powder
6g Maldon sea salt
150g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
Maldon sea salt, extra

In a bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the vanilla extract and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix in the flours, baking powder and salt until just combined. Add the chocolate chunks and knead with your hand until there is no more floury patches.
If you’re going to bake them in a muffin pan, preheat the oven to 180°C and form dough balls roughly the size of a Clementine, which you then press into the holes of your pan and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bake for 12 minutes.
You can shape the rest into 5cm-wide logs which can be frozen for up to 3 months.
When you crave some cookies, simply cut the log into 2cm slices. Arrange on a lined baking tray and bake at 180°C for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.