By the way, I'm still collecting recipes for the Spice Cadets' Manual. (Not these – unless I use them before the deadline – and like them.)
Anyway, from The Scotsman:
Vanilla panna cotta with mixed berry zabaglione
1 vanilla pod
75ml semi-skimmed milk
300ml double cream
65g caster sugar
11/2 leaves gelatine
Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add both to the milk with the cream and sugar. Then slowly bring to a simmer. Soak the gelatine for two minutes in ice-cold water, until soft, then squeeze out the excess water and dissolve it in the cream mixture.
When it has cooled, remove the vanilla pod and place the mixture in the fridge. Return to stir it every five minutes. When the mixture starts to thicken, pour it into aluminium moulds and transfer back to the fridge. Leave for a couple of hours to set fully.
Mixed berry zabaglione
2 egg yolks
30g caster sugar
2 tbsp white wine
300g mixed fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries work well)
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a stainless-steel or glass bowl until pale in colour. Add the water and white wine. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water, whisking continuously until it thickens and doubles in volume. Then remove it from the heat.
Release the panna cotta from the moulds by quickly dipping them into a bowl of hot water for two to three seconds, then turn them out on to a plate. Arrange the berries around the panna cotta and spoon over the zabaglione. Then, using a blow torch, quickly colour the zabaglione before serving.
Dark chocolate and raspberry tart with creme fraiche
90g icing sugar
300g plain flour
11/2 medium eggs
Place the icing sugar in a bowl with the butter and mix together using a paddle or spoon. When the sugar and butter are well mixed and pale in colour, add the flour a little at a time. Add the eggs and mix together until you have a dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest it in the fridge for two to three hours.
Roll the sweet pastry out to about 3mm in thickness and prick it with a fork. Line six tartlet tins with the pastry, then place some greaseproof paper or clingfilm in each pastry case and cover with baking beans. Cook in the oven for eight to ten minutes at 190°C, until the pastry is golden in colour. Remove the baking beans and the paper or clingfilm and cook the pastry for a further two minutes. Now the tarts are ready to be filled.
270g double cream
300g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
11/2 medium eggs
1 tub crème fraîche
Put the milk and cream into a pot and bring to the boil. Add the chocolate and mix with a whisk until it dissolves completely. Beat the eggs into the chocolate liquid, whisking vigorously. Pour the warm tart mix into the moulds and then place a few whole raspberries in each pastry case. Bake the tarts in the oven at 150¼C for around eight minutes. When cooked, the filling should have set like a custard and have a smooth shiny surface. Remove the tarts from the oven and leave to cool.
To serve, simply remove the tarts from the baking tins, dust with some icing sugar and top with crème fraîche and mint. They should be served at room temperature.
Tricks of the trade
This is a winner every time in the restaurant. The important thing here is not to scrimp on the ingredients: use good-quality unsalted butter, not margarine, for the pastry, and good-quality chocolate such as Green & Black's - if you get the chocolate buttons it will save you having to do any chopping.
Be sure to rest your pastry for two to three hours. If you don't, it will shrink. When you blind-bake it, clingfilm is actually better than greaseproof paper as it allows the beans (or whatever you are using) to go right into the corners. Make sure it is three layers thick, though, or it will melt.
Always roll your pastry the same way, rotating it by a quarter turn each time, and go easy on the flour, as too much will dry it out.
It's important to whisk the eggs into the mixture when it is off the heat, or else they will start to cook. The mixture will keep for four to five days in the fridge, wrapped in clingfilm. Don't fill the pastry case to the brim with the tart mix or it will overflow when you add the raspberries.
Cook the tart an hour or so before your guests arrive. Keep an eye on it, and if you see bubbles that means it's getting too hot - simply open the oven door and leave it to cook itself out.
To keep the tart looking smooth, serve it at room temperature, never straight from the fridge. Dip a spoon in hot water before spooning the crème fraîche over the tart - this will stop it sticking. You can decorate it with chocolate shavings - scrape the chocolate with the back of a knife or a vegetable peeler to create curls.
Finally, a couple of seconds with a blow torch will melt the top of the tart slightly and give it a nice glaze.