Baked Camembert with Nuts and Toffee Sauce

I quite often see photographs of food on Pinterest which look amazing but, when I read the recipe I kind of go off the idea.  This one, however, intrigued me.  Could a toffee sauce work with cheese?

The original recipe used brie but I happened to have some wonderfully ripe Cornish Camembert so I used that instead – you could use either.

The recipe also called for a sauce made from brown sugar and Kahlua but I really thought the coffee flavour might be a step too far – if you disagree give it a go and let me know how you get on.  I made a simple brown sugar and water syrup but it definitely lacked a little umph.  Next time I’ll try using the soy caramel sauce that I served with the mushroom custards to add a salty dimension to the flavours.

The original recipe also used pecan nuts whereas I chose mixed nuts – on balance I think it only needs the slighly bitter edge of walnuts – brazil nuts were definitely not quite right.

My original thought was that it looked somewhere between dessert and a cheese course so it could be a good way to end a meal.  In reality it is very sweet and very rich so it would probably be better served as part of a buffet or with nibbles for a girls night in – that way everyone can dunk in crackers or crudites and really enjoy the flavours without being over faced.

I will definitely try this again because it is great but not yet perfect.  Try experimenting with it yourself and let me know how you get on.

Ingredients

A round of Camembert or Brie in a wooden box – size to suit you.

A handful or two of (unsalted) Nuts – Walnuts work well.

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespons Water

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4

Remove the brie from the box and open (but do not remove) the wax paper wrapping.  Replace the cheese and the paper wrapper in the base of the box – open side up.  Fold back the paper to reveal the top of the cheese.

Trim the bloom (white rind) from the top edge of the cheese all the way around.  Place the cheese, in its box, on a baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven.  Leave for around 5 or 6 minutes until the inside of the cheese is soft, gooey and runny.  Place the nuts on an oven tray and put them in the oven to toast for a few minutes – keep an eye on them as they can burn easily.

In the meantime make the sauce.  Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar has melted (do not stir).  Turn up the heat and boil until you have a thick syrup.

Remove the cheese from the oven – you can serve it in its box and paper but place the whole thing on a serving plate because it can be messy.  Remove the top layer of bloom.

Stir the nuts into the sugar syrup until well coated and then spoon over the cheese.  Serve with oatcakes, crackers or crudites for dipping.  Or, if this is lunch, serve with hunks of crusty bread.

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Wheat Free Pizza

Pizza is yet another of my guilty treats (there are so many…) and I, along with many of my friends, was really pleased by the recent opening of the Cornish Pizza Company in the village where I live.  If you live in a large town or city you probably won’t appreciate this but when you live rurally quality take away food nearly always requires a substantial drive and the food is often cold by time you get it home.

But not everyone who enjoys pizza can get away with eating the wheat base – lots of people avoid wheat for medical reasons or because of a mild intolerance or indeed because they are on a low carb diet for weight loss.

So when I saw this cauliflower based pizza base I decided to try it out – if I can get a pizza hit and add to my 5 a day then it’s definitely worth experimenting.

The base is made from mashed cauliflower, grated mozzarella and basil, all bound together with some egg.  Once baked it becomes firm and stable and the cheese browns nicely giving it that wonderful cooked cheese hit that you really want from a pizza.  You can then add the topping of your choice as you would with any other base.

I have to say I loved this pizza – it was tasty and moreish but if it had a slight downside (very slight) it is that you really need to eat it with a knife and fork – the base is not quite stiff enough to be able to pick a slice up in your fingers without a laundry disaster.

The cauliflower base is so tasty that I am also going to make it again in tiny portions because I think it will make a really good vehicle for all sorts of dips or even as a canape base.

Ingredients

Base

1 medium / large Cauliflower

250g Mozzarella – grated (don’t buy pre-grated if you can help it – it’s much less “rubbery” if you buy fresh and grate it yoursef)

2 Eggs – lightly whisked

A small handfull of basil leaves, shredded.

Topping

Whatever you like to put on your pizza!  I used:

1 Red Onion – sauteed

3 or 4 Mushrooms – sliced and sauteed

Small Plum Tomatoes, halved.

10-12 Slices of Pepperoni

Some torn up, left over Mozzarella

A few torn Basil Leaves.

Method

Makes 2 8″ / 20cm Pizzas

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C / 400 F / Gas Mark 6

Chop up the cauliflower and steam until just cooked.  Set aside to cool and then grate into a sieve over a bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as you can and discard the water.  Put the cauliflower into the now dry bowl, add the grated mozzarella, the shredded basil leaves and the eggs and stir it all together.

Lightly grease a non-stick baking sheet (it really needs to be non-stick) – you may need two sheets.  Spoon the cauliflower mixture into two piles on the sheet(s) and flatten into rough circles approximately 8″ / 20cm in diameter and 1/4 ” / 5mm deep.  If you want to be neater you can use the outer ring of a springform cake tin as a guide.

Place the tray(s) in the top of the oven for 12 – 15 minutes.  I like the crispy bits round the edge that come from longer cooking – if you do too keep an eye on it after 12 mins and leave it until it looks brown and bubbly.

 

Remove the pizza bases from the oven and add the topping of your choice. You can use a traditional tomato sauce but I like the freshness that comes from lightly roasted fresh tomatoes – particularly in the summer when they are home grown.

Return to the oven for 5 minutes until the topping is heated through and any cheese is melting nicely. Serve with a green salad.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog and would like to receive updates please “like” the bun scuffle Facebook Page or follow bun scuffle on Twitter using the links below. If you don’t use social Media you can email me fiona@bunscuffle.co.uk and I will send you updates by email.