Rose water flavoured pastry, filled with raspberry and lychee crème, caramelised almonds and fresh raspberries.
Equipment and preparation: for this recipe you will need a piping bag, food processor and a flan tin.
For the pastry, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Combine the flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor. Add the egg yolks and rose water and mix together into a dough then transfer to the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out the pastry 2-3mm/ 1/8in thick. Press into a flan tin, leaving any surplus pastry overhanging the edge, cover with scrunched up baking paper and put baking beans on top (to stop the pastry base puffing up when baking). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry just begins to colour.
Meanwhile, for the caramelised almonds, break up the almonds in a food processor, then transfer them to a clean dry frying pan and toast until they are an even golden-brown. Remove from the heat.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spread the almonds over it in an even layer. In a small pan, make a caramel by heating the sugar and one tablespoon of water over a medium/high heat. When all the sugar has dissolved and the caramel has turned a golden-brown colour, pour it over the almonds. Set aside until the caramel is completely cool and has hardened, then blend briefly in a food processor until crushed.
Remove the pastry from the oven and take off the greaseproof paper and baking beans. Trim any excess pastry with a knife and brush the case with beaten egg.
Press half of the caramelised almonds into the sides and base of the pastry. Bake the tart case for another 10 minutes, until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
For the lychee crème pâtissière, whisk the egg yolks, 70g/2½oz of the sugar and all the flour and cornflour in a large bowl until smooth.
In a pan, heat the milk and the remaining 70g/2½oz sugar. Stir in a third of the hot milk to the egg mix and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until combined, then quickly transfer the mixture to a pan set over a low/medium heat.
Stir the crème pâtissière constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then stir in the butter and lychees. Sprinkle icing sugar on top to prevent a skin forming and transfer to the fridge to chill.
For the mini macaroons, preheat the oven 180C/350F/Gas 4.
In a bowl, combine the ground almonds, icing sugar and food colouring then set aside. In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites on the fastest speed until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
In a pan, heat the sugar and 35ml/1fl oz water to 118C/245F (use a sugar thermometer to measure this). While whisking, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites to make a stable meringue. Then gently fold in the almond and icing sugar mixture until completely combined. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe 2cm/¾in circles onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Set the macaroons aside to form a crust, for at least 30 minutes.
Meanwhile make the crème mascarpone. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl and whisk until hot. Remove from the heat and add the liqueur, rose water and agar-agar.
Place the bowl back on top of the pan of simmering water, and whisk for 4-5 minutes, or until the crème is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Fill a large bowl with iced water and sit the crème bowl in it. When the crème has cooled slightly, whisk in the mascarpone, then transfer to the fridge to chill.
For the jam glaze, put a small saucer in the freezer. Mash one punnet of raspberries with a fork and push through a sieve in to a medium sized pan. Place over a medium heat and cook for five minutes before adding the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-10 minutes more, or until it has reached the setting point (test this by placing a spoon full of jam on the chilled saucer. Let the jam cool for a minute and then push it gently with your finger: if the jam wrinkles, it has reached its setting point). Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
Once the jam has cooled, use it to paint each of the remaining raspberries.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Bake the rested macaroons in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to the fridge until ready to serve.
To serve, remove the pastry base from the flan tin. Pipe the cooled lychee crème pâtissière onto the pastry base and smooth the top to make a flat layer. Place glazed raspberries on top in straight, parallel lines, leaving a raspberry’s width between each one. Pipe small swirls of the cooled crème mascarpone in the spaces between the raspberries and place a mini macaroon on top of every third swirl and sprinkle caramelised almonds onto the others.
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Paul and Mary share some of their favourite festive recipes in this one-off special.