With the Mercury dipping to temps close to freezing, cooking up comfort food is high on our agenda. Cookbooks and magazines entice us with their alluring images and mention of comfort food, but we wonder – why are we drawn to it during the bleaker months?
Apparently, consuming comfort foods, increases chemicals in the brain, like serotonin and dopamine, that positively influence our moods – like the way certain drugs also induce a sense of pleasure (anyone for chocolate!?) Right now, even my toddler is loving a whirring oven. “Hot hot, cake?”
There may no longer be a biological need to fatten up during winter, however it’s certainly a great excuse to cook and eat, so this week we’ve decided to share a delicious and decadent recipe which includes our favourite spicy gingerbread flavours; Leche flan with gingerbread crumbs
As part of our ‘gingerbread-inpsired winter warmers’ week, there is also a chance to WIN gingerbread! We’d like to invite you to share an innovative recipe with us… but here’s the catch – gingerbread needs to be one of the ingredients! Our favourite recipe will receive 1kg of gingerbread to make their recipe! Competition opens Wednesday 20th of July 9am and closes Wednesday 27th of July midnight. Head to http://www.facebook.com/gingerbreadfolk to enter our comp!
Leche Flan with Gingerbread Crumbs
Serves 8 Prep time 15 mins, cook 1 hr 25 mins (+ resting, cooling, setting)
440 gm (2 cups) white sugar
4 eggs + 4 egg yolks (free range of course)
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
50ml dry sherry
130 gm plain flour
½ tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
60 gm butter, softened
45 gm caster sugar
1 egg yolk
90 gm (¼ cup) blackstrap molasses
For gingerbread crumbs, sift dry ingredients (except sugar) and ½ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper together and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy, add egg yolk and beat until combined. Add molasses, beat to combine, then add sifted ingredients and stir until just combined. Form dough into a square, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 180C. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to 5mm thick and transfer to a lightly greased and baking paper-lined oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp. Cool, then break into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form.
Reduce oven to 120C. Place eight ¾ cup-capacity (1.5cm-deep) moulds in a roasting pan. Combine 1 cup sugar and 2/3 cup water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves, then increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes or until golden caramel. Divide among moulds and cool until set.
Whisk together whole eggs and egg yolks, remaining sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl, add sherry and milk and gently stir to prevent bubbles forming, then divide among prepared moulds. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of moulds, cover with 2 sheets of foil and bake for 1 hour or until just set. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold. Serve leche flans scattered with gingerbread crumbs.
Note Blackstrap molasses is available from the health food section of supermarkets and health food stores.
RECIPE LUKE BURGESS, PECORA RESTAURANT