Once I’d sampled some of my Innes Log last week, I was still left with quite a chunk and with the in-laws coming over and expecting sustenance, I decided to make some goat’s cheese tarts as a starter, also using up some of the windfall apples I was given recently.
I’d been pondering for a while how I could combine the two magical foodstuffs that are gin and cheese (or perhaps gin is a drinkstuff?) and all the recent autumnal talk made me rummage about in the cupboard in search of sloe gin. Here it is, Mother’s Little Nearly-Empty Helper:
It’s always a first world problem to know what to do with the gin-soaked berries that are left at the bottom and so I felt it was time – and indeed, a human imperative – to experiment with gin and cheese. And if I do say so myself
through a slightly ginnish haze it turned out really well, with the sweet and slightly boozy sauce going well with the creamy, nutty goat’s cheese and squidgy apple. And yes, I know I should probably call it a ‘jus’ or a ‘reduction’ but I just can’t. So it’s a sauce.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you gin and cheese. Together. Oh yes.
375g ready-made puff pastry (there will be some left over but you could always make some Goat’s Cheese Straws on the side)
115g soft goat cheese ( I was a bit worried about using a goat’s cheese with a rind but it all mashed up and melted down perfectly)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 eating apple, peeled, quartered, and sliced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsps honey
3 tbsps of sloe gin berries from the gin bottle, plus a tablespoon of the gin
3 ripe plums, destoned and chopped up
1 tbsp demerera sugar
Basic recipe for the tarts adapted from here.
Preheat the oven to 190˚c / 170˚c fan-assisted / Gas Mark 5.
Lay the pastry out onto a chopping board. Using a 5-inch biscuit cutter (or an overturned bowl and a sharp knife), cut four 5-inch circles from the dough. Place the rounds on some baking paper (or I used kitchen foil).
Press a 3½-inch biscuit cutter into the middle of each round, stopping ¾ of the way down so that it just makes an indent. This will allow the outer ring to rise around the middle. Pierce the middle all over with a fork.
Put the goat’s cheese, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and microwave it until it’s soft but not melted (probably less than a minute). Stir and mash to mix it all up and spread it over the middle of each round. Top with overlapping apple slices, making sure to stay within the middle.
Combine the butter and honey in a small bowl and microwave until the butter is melted (it happens quickly so keep an eye on it). Stir to combine and brush some over the entirety of each round.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the pastry is nicely browned.
Meanwhile, put the plums, sloes, gin and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for ten minutes or until the plums are soft. Put it all into a food processor and whizz it up. At this point the processor will start protesting about the sloe stones so, boring though it is, pick out the stones (think of the gin, think of the gin…) Whizz up the mixture again until smooth (if it needs loosening, add some more gin). Drink some gin.
By this time the tarts should be cooked. Remove them from the oven and serve with the sauce on the side. And some gin.
Because I’ve used home-made sloe gin in this recipe, I’m adding it to the Baking With Spirit Challenge over at Cake of the Week.