Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Yesterday I gave four demonstration/masterclasses at the Good Food Show in Birmingham - my last set of demos before Christmas - can you hear my whooping with joy that they are all done! Finally I can start to think about Christmas! The show was really good fun - I was on the British stage in between Rachael Allen and Gary Rhodes so felt very priviledged, demonstrating whoopie pies (the recipe for my pear and walnut whoopies is below if any of you want to have a try yourselves) and also demonstrated some christmas recipes and held two cook along masterclasses making pear galettes with calvados custard (which I am pleased to report didn't go lumpy!) Tim Kinnaird - who was a finalist on this years Masterchef - had a stand selling his delicious macarons - we ate far too many of these as they are seriously addictive and yesterday evening before leaving I took part in James Nathan (MC Winner 2008)'s scallop masterclass - I have never shucked a scallop before so it was good to learn a new skill - and the fried brioche bread (with a quails egg dropped into a hole in the bread and fried) was delicious, if a little naughty! All in all a really memorable day (highlight being that I managed to "acquire" a Masterchef mug!)

Toffee, Pear and Walnut Whoopie Pies
Makes 12 pies
Preparation time 30 minutes, cooking time 15 - 20 minutes

For the pies
125g butter or vegetable shortening, softened
200g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp maple syrup
320g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
250ml soured cream
1 ripe pear

For the toffee glaze
30g brown sugar
50ml maple syrup
1 tbsp butter

For the walnut cream
75g walnuts
100g caster sugar
300ml double cream

Equipment: Mixer or whisk, 2 Whoopie Pie pans greased with butter or two large baking trays greased and lined with silicon mats or greaseproof paper, piping bag with large round nozzle (optional)

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/350F/180C. For the pies, cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl for 2 – 3 minutes until light and creamy using an electric or hand whisk. Add the egg and maple syrup and mix again. Sift the flour and baking powder and add to the bowl together with the salt and soured cream. Whisk again until everything is incorporated. The mixture will be quite stiff and if you are mixing by hand you will need a strong arm. Add 100ml of hot, but not boiling water, and whisk into the mixture. If using Whoopie Pie pans, place a large spoonful of batter into each hole in the tin. If using a piping bag, spoon the batter into the bag fitted with a large round nozzle and pipe 12 rounds on each tray (about 6cm in diameter) leaving a gap between each pie as they will spread during cooking. Thinly slice the pear, removing the core and place two slices on top of 12 of the whoopie pie halves. Bake each tray for 10 – 12 minutes in the oven, turning the trays round half way through cooking to ensure even baking until the pies spring back when pressed lightly with your finger. When cooked, remove the pies from the oven, cool slightly then turn out to cool on a cooling rack.
Heat the ingredients for the toffee glaze in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted and then drizzle over the warm pear topped pies. This is best done on a cooling rack with foil or greaseproof paper underneath to catch any drips.
To prepare the walnut cream filling, sprinkle the walnut halves on a silicon mat or sheet of baking parchment. Heat the caster sugar in a pan over a gentle heat until it melts and goes a light golden colour. Do not stir the sugar whilst it is melting but watch very closely as it will burn easily if you are not careful. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan to ensure even colouring. When the sugar has all melted, quickly use a spoon to drizzle the caramel over the walnuts, cool, then blitz to a fine dust in a food processor. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold through the walnut powder. Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with a large round and pipe circles of cream onto the bottom pie halves. Top with the toffee pear pie halves. As these pies contain fresh cream, they should be served immediately or stored in the fridge.


Marie said...

Hi Hannah I won a masterchef mug by naming two past masterchef champions while you were making the brioche with oysters. I really enjoyed the demonstration and saw you beavering away in the background. I was sorry to have missed your slot earlier, we were at the wrong end of the hall at the time.

Rita said...

Wish I was there ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Hannah I won a Masterchef mug while you were taking a class making pear and walnut tarts. I was pleased to see that you were wearing your new apron from the London Show. I have been reading and enjoying your blog for years. Please add the tart recipe to the blog. The whoopie pie recipe is in the show guide but the tarts look yummy.