We know Marley Spooners love to master a new skill in the kitchen and we love sharing cooking tips to help you achieve maestro status. On a few of our Festive Fare recipes, you many have noticed that we flagged extra cooking tips that our Culinary Team wanted to share with you, including how-to layer filo pastry, whip-up oven-baked candied ginger, make homemade caramel and perfect praline.
Cooking tip: How-to layer filo pastry
Filo pastry is an incredibly easy to use pastry that works well in both sweet and savoury dishes. Follow our tips below to ensure a perfect layer every time.
- Remove only the sheets of filo needed from the stack. Any sheets not being used should be covered at all times with a damp tea towel as they dry out very quickly and crack.
- Make sure the filo sheets are lightly and evenly sprayed with oil to keep the filo pliable. If you don’t have oil spray, you can use extra melted butter brushed lightly with a pastry brush.
- To create the filo layers between the filling and on top, spray the filo sheets, then fold in half widthwise to suit the shape of the dish (and to save time cutting to fit!).
- Scrunch the overhanging or excess filo back into the dish to form a deliciously flaky edge.
- To form a neat diamond pattern, cut through the top layers of filo only on the diagonal first – there’s no need to cut through the filling as well. If you get some of the filling on your knife, wipe it clean between cuts to keep the pastry on top looking neat.
- Cut vertical lines through the top layers of filo to complete the diamond pattern.
Cooking tip: How-to-make candied ginger and fool-proof caramel
Oven-baked candied ginger is easy to make and adds a delicious sweet crunch to these caramel-filled biscuits.
How-to-make candied ginger
- Peel then coarsely grate the ginger, then combine it with 1 tbs maple syrup in a bowl to coat evenly.
- Spread the grated ginger mixture as thinly as possible on a baking-paper lined tray. This will make sure that it cooks evenly.
- Bake the ginger for 10-12 mins until most of the maple syrup has evaporated and the ginger is golden. The outside edges will turn a deeper golden brown – that’s fine, just watch it doesn’t burn.
- Allow to cool slightly, then chop the ginger mixture to a fine crumb. Ensure there are no large lumps as this will make joining the biscuits easier.
- Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Open the can slightly, just enough to break the seal, Put a folded tea towel in a medium saucepan and put the can upright on the towel. Fill the pan with water to 1cm below the top of the can.
- Bring the water to the boil. Cook, uncovered, for 3 hours, topping up with boiling water frequently to maintain level. Cool. (The condensed milk can may leak - just ensure no water gets in the can).
- The top of the caramel will not be caramelised, so transfer the contents of the can to a bowl and stir the caramel well until smooth and combined.
Cooking tip: How-to make perfect praline
Praline shards elevate this creamy parfait to new heights. Making toffee can sometimes seem daunting, but with our tips you can make perfect praline every time.
Making toffee for praline
- It’s important to completely dissolve the sugar in the water before it comes to a boil - you can check to see all the sugar is dissolved when you can’t see any grains of sugar in the base of the pan. Use a medium heat to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. You can stir the syrup at this stage.
- It’s also a good idea to brush the inside of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to make sure there are no sugar crystals form on the inside. Even just one undissolved sugar crystal can cause the syrup to crystallise once cold.
- When the syrup is ready, stop stirring and bring it to the boil. Once it boils, do not stir the syrup as this can cause it to crystallise. Keep watch: the syrup can burn quickly while boiling. NOTE: the syrup cooking time will vary, depending on the size and shape of your saucepan. Don’t stir the syrup at this stage. If there are patches of golden brown forming, gently swirl the pan to even out the colour
- Once the toffee is a lovely golden colour (not too pale or it won’t set and not too dark or it will be bitter), remove the pan from the heat and let the bubbles subside.
Setting the toffee
- Carefully pour the toffee onto a baking paper-lined tray. Tilt the tray gently to achieve a thin layer of toffee.
- Working quickly before the toffee sets, sprinkle the nuts and seeds evenly over the toffee.
- Leave the toffee to cool at room temperature and harden. It should only take 20 to 30 mins. Once cooled, store the praline in an airtight container lined with baking paper, at room temperature.
Storage and make-ahead tips
- Don’t refrigerate toffee as the humidity in the fridge can dissolve the toffee.
- In a cool, dry climate, the toffee can be made a day ahead. A warm humid climate will mean you can make it a few hours ahead.