I think my pumpkin carving skills are coming along nicely. There is a definite improvement from 2010 and I'm worlds away from 2009! Not only have I managed a bit of detail in Urchin's stripes, I have her surprise at mice escaping from her. At some stage I will post the video I based the pumpkin on - it's hilarious, the mouse bites her and runs away.
I'm so excited by pumpkins at the moment. As far as I am concerned they are the best thing about this time of year - little glowing beacons in the grey autumn weather. They don't really understand pumpkin in the UK, so you tend to only see watery orange carving pumpkins rather than the ones that are really good for eating. My favourite is the bluey green skinned kabocha, but I generally end up using butternut because it is much easier to come by!
Anyway, this delectable tart is from Joanne's blog. I used creme fraiche instead of almond milk for the custard, more gorgonzola (100g), brik pastry instead of phyllo (because that's what the supermarket sent me) and added a grating of nutmeg (because I am incapable of making anything cheesy without a grating of nutmeg). It was at its best hot from the oven; the following day the filling was better but the pastry had lost some of its crispness.
This cinder toffee left me as surprised as Urchin when confronted with a mouse. One of the girls at work is American and had been lamenting the lack of autumn-themed candy and so forth in the shops here, so I thought I would make something for the office that was all about the season. I found this recipe on Not Quite Nigella for a spiced maple brittle that I thought sounded just the ticket. My only change was to use pecans instead of almonds. But rather than forming the thin, crisp sheets of brittle like the picture showed, the bicarb frothed it up into an airy honeycomb and it set like that. It wasn't a problem, but it was a surprise!
Unfortunately it was so sweet that even the most hardened dessert eaters at work were a bit scared of it and were defeated by a single chunk, so I have quite a lot leftover. I have a strategy for those leftovers, which may be blogged about in the future, depending on how well it goes.
You may have noticed that I have buttons in the sidebar now for following me on twitter and facebook - I haven't quite got a handle on twitter yet, but I am sure my every utterance will be fascinating and worth following.