04 . 01 . 18
Recipe: How to eat your Christmas tree (for dessert)
Pine nut and chocolate fudge brownie – serve with a spruce ice cream for maximum Christmas tree deliciousness.
Christmas trees. We make such a fuss out of them for a couple of months – they live in our houses, guard our presents and make us feel all warm and cosy. We celebrate them. But then, come the 6th January, we stick them in the bin. It makes me sad, as sad as seeing a single glove on the floor or a balloon stuck in a tree. So a few years ago, my friend Lauren (who runs HEKA Lab) and I decided to do something about this and set up an annual supper club called ‘How to eat your Christmas tree’ where people could enjoy a four course coniferous meal where many of the elements are made using Christmas trees – we were eating them, not throwing them away. This was a light hearted way of getting people to think about issues of waste and reuse, especially after the most wasteful time of the year – plus, eating Christmas trees, it turns out, is delicious. I would like to share with you my favourite recipes of this year (every year I find more and more) – pine nut and chocolate fudge brownie and a blue spruce ice cream, (this recipe can also be found in an interview we did for Vice’s Munchies a few years back, but I have since edited it since, slightly). So I hope you enjoy your first taste of Christmas tree! Maybe next year you can think about extending the life of your tree by either planting it… or perhaps nibbling on it…
Blue Spruce ice cream
Blue spruce is one of my favourite conifers – it has a really nice orangey taste and pairs really nicely with a warm brownie, which ends up being very gooey from the oil in the pinenuts. However, it is not as easy to find in the UK as Nordmann Spruce is. If you do use Nordmann spruce, use about 30 g more needles in your mixture as, though still lovely, the flavour isn’t as strong.
Makes enough for 16 people
510 g double cream
170 g full fat milk (ideally use Jersey milk)
200 g Blue Spruce needles (or use Nordmann Spruce if you can’t find Blue Spruce)
9 egg yolks
170 g sugar
A big pinch of salt
5 pieces of diced stem ginger
1. Prepare blue spruce needles by cutting off small branches, then washing and drying them – make sure to remove the soil! Cut the needles from the branches using scissors. This can be a bit tricky as they are quite sharp, so be careful!
2. Measure out the cream, milk, caster sugar and egg yolks into a heavy bottomed, stainless steel saucepan and whisk until well combined.
3. Add the blue spruce needles to the cream mixture and heat over a gentle heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula so that the mixture doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Pay particular attention to the corners of the pan. When little bubbles begin to appear around the edge of the mixture, your custard is ready and you can remove from the heat.
3. Sieve the custard mixture carefully in a fine sieve. You may need to do this a few times to make sure non of the needles end up in your final ice cream mixture.
4 a). If you have an ice cream maker, add the mixture to the churning pot and begin the churning process. Before it freezes solid, add the chopped stem ginger and continue churning until it is completely frozen. Transfer the frozen ice cream to the freezer.
4 b). If you don’t own an ice cream maker, transfer the mix to a tub or dish and leave to cool completely. When it is cool, transfer to the freezer. Stir the mixture every hour and, when it is beginning to freeze (about 2 hours in) but not completely solid, add the chopped stem ginger and mix well. Continue stirring every hour until the ice cream is completely frozen for another 2 hours.
5. Put in a container and keep it in the freezer until you want to eat it. It will keep for up to 3 months!
Pinenut & Chocolate Fudge Brownie
This recipe is inspired by the traditional Italian dessert ‘torta di pinoli e cioccolato.’ The oils in the pine nuts make this brownie very moist and fudgey and the creamy, nutty flavour works well with chocolate.
(Makes enough for 1 x 20 cm baking tin)
300 g sugar
150 g dark chocolate
150 g milk chocolate
170 g butter
130 g flour
200 g pine nuts
2 pinches of sea salt
1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.
2. Crush 150 g of the pine nuts in a pestle and mortar.
3. Melt the chocolate, butter and the crushed pine nuts over a bain-marie.
4. While the chocolate is melting, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Pour the eggs and sugar into the chocolate mixture and beat so that you have a glossy mixture.
6. Weigh out the flour with a couple of pinches of sea salt and fold into the chocolate mixture, adding it in a little bit at a time.
7. Line a baking tray with parchment and butter. Pour in the brownie mixture, sprinkling the remaining 50 g of pine nuts over the top. Bake for 17 minutes. You will know that it’s ready when cracks have formed around the edge of the brownie, but the centre will still be quite gooey.
8. Either serve hot if you want a gooey consistency or set in the fridge overnight. Better the next day.