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It seems strange to me that Spain's native confectionery and desserts are prodominantly multifarious in a country that has an abundance of some of the best fruit in the world and brought us chocolate from the New World. Here in Majorca we have a cream cheese tart called greixonera de brosat and Gato (gateau) a sponge-like almond cake along with the famous ensaimada, a delicate puff pastry–like confection served more often for breakfast with a big café con leche. Ibiza have floa, a mouth-watering tart, believed to be Carthaginian in origin and made from soft cream ewe's milk cheese flavoured with hierbabuena (fresh mint). The Basques have their Pastel Vasco and some interesting and unusual desserts with great sounding names like pantxineta, made with almonds and Inzaursalsa, a warm walnut soup with milk and sugar flavoured with cinnamon. Mamia or cuajada is basically junket: ewe's milk set with rennet and normally served with honey or baked “reineta” apples. “Torrijas,” from Madrid is the Spanish equivalent of “pain perdu” and consists of stale bread soaked in milk, then fried and coated in sugar, it has become one of the most popular desserts to be modernised by the young talented chefs throughout Spain. Other desserts with great sounding names include ”brazo gitano” (the gypsies arm) this is a Swiss roll to you and me, the very sweet and sickly caramel like “Tocino de cielo” (heavenly squares) and Leche Frita (fried milk!)
The people of Galicia in the north are very keen on pancakes called “filloas”. They have even invented a fiesta around them and spend the whole weekend making pancakes. They serve them warm, with a little local honey and you always find yourself eating too many, as they are extremely tempting.

One of the most typical desserts of the region is Tarta De Santiago, a moist almond cake decorated with the cross of St. James. It is sometimes served flaming with whisky. In Valencia, delicacies exist with dates and pomegranates and the people of the Canary Islands love yams with honey, banana cake milk and lemon bread.

TARTA DE REQUESON

SPANISH CREAM

CHEESE TART
(SERVES 8)
· 300g requeson or cream cheese
· 50ml cream
· 250g sugar
· 6 Whole eggs
· Grated zest of one lemon
· Pinch of ground cinnamon
Sweet pastry:
· 450g plain flour
· pinch of salt
· 150g icing sugar
l 200g cold butter (diced)
· 3 egg yolks
l Place the butter, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar and egg yolks and pulse again, just enough to incorporate the eggs. Scrape out the pastry and wrap in cling film. Place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm thick.
Line a 20cm tart ring with the pastry and cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans.
Bake in a pre-heated oven (180c/gas 5) for about 20-25 minutes.
Carefully remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper and cook for a further 10 minutes until golden.
Place the whole eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the cream cheese, cream, grated lemon zest and cinnamon and whisk together until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pastry case and bake in a pre-heated oven (160c/gas 4) for 35-40 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Slice the tart into portions, dust with icing sugar and serve.

CREMA CATALANA
(SERVES 4)
· 500ml cream
· 150ml milk
· 1tspn. Fennel seeds l 1 vanilla pod (split)
· 4 egg yolks
· 90g sugar
· grated zest of 1 lemon
· grated zest of 1 orange
l Heat the cream, milk, fennel seeds,vanilla pod and orange and lemon zest in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil and remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes and strain through a fine sieve.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together and add the cream mixture. Pour into earthenware or ramekin moulds and place in a bain-marie of cold water.
Cook in a gentle oven 90c/gas 4 for about 1 hour or until just set. Do not be tempted to turn the oven temperature up, as they will curdle.
Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
To serve: l Sprinkle with sugar and caramelise under a hot grill or with a blowtorch.
Serve immediately.

MADELEINE'S
· 2 eggs
· 450 ml icing sugar
· 300 ml milk
l 340 ml extra-virgin olive oil
· 900 ml flour
· 1 tbsp. baking powder l Place two dozen paper Madeleine moulds on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
Beat the eggs and sugar together in a food processor until you get a thin, pale yellow batter that pours in an intermittent stream. Mix the other ingredients, alternating the milk and oil with the flour in order to keep the batter light, and beat again thoroughly. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the paper moulds, filling them only 2/3 full to give the Madeleine's room to expand. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the Madeleine's are puffed and nicely golden.

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