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Pecan Shortbreads with Raspberries and Raspberry Puree

If you like classic crème pâtissière (French pastry cream) but have no time to make it, a combination of ready-made custard and crème fraîche makes a lovely alternative. If you use it to sandwich together crisp, wafer-thin pecan shortbreads, raspberries and raspberry purée, you have a real winner for summer entertaining. But don't be tempted to prepare these too far in advance, because once the filling goes in, the shortbreads begin to lose their crunchiness.

 
 
 Pecan Shortbreads with Raspberries and Raspberry Puree

  Serves 8

Ingredients
For the pecan shortbreads:
 4 oz (110 g) pecans
 5 oz (150 g) softened butter
 2½ oz (60 g) unrefined golden icing sugar
 2½ oz (60 g) rice flour or ground rice, sifted
 5 oz (150 g) plain flour, sifted
For the raspberry filling:
 1 lb (450 g) fresh raspberries, reserving 24 for the garnish
 7 fl oz (200 ml) crème fraîche
 5 fl oz (150 ml) fresh custard
 2 drops vanilla extract
To garnish:
 unrefined golden icing sugar, to dust
For the raspberry purée:
 8 oz (225 g) fresh raspberries
 2 level tablespoons golden caster sugar
 Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
Oven temperatures and Conversions
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Equipment
You will also need two large baking sheets (lined) and a 3½ inch (9 cm) round pastry cutter.

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book Two.

Method

To begin, toast the pecans by spreading them out on a baking tray and popping them in the oven for 8 minutes.

Then, once cool, place them in a processor and grind them down until they look rather like ground almonds. Now, in a mixing bowl, cream the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually work in the sifted flours, followed by the ground pecans, bringing the mixture together into a stiff ball. Place the dough in a polythene bag and leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

After that, roll it out to a thickness of ¼ inch (5 mm), then stamp out 16 rounds by placing the cutter on the pastry and giving it a sharp tap, then simply lift the cutter and the piece will drop out. Now arrange the biscuits on the baking trays and lightly prick each one with a fork.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, leave on the baking trays for about 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. While the shortbreads are cooling, place the raspberries for the purée in a bowl, sprinkle them with the sugar and leave for 30 minutes. After that, purée them in a processor and pass through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds, then place in a serving bowl, cover and chill till needed.

For the raspberry filling, whisk the crème fraîche in a mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk until it becomes really stiff, then add the custard and vanilla extract and whisk again, also until thick. Cover and chill till needed. Just before serving, spread equal quantities of the cream mixture over 8 of the biscuits, then arrange the raspberries on top, not forgetting to reserve 24.

Spoon some purée over, then sandwich with the remaining shortbreads. Place 3 raspberries on top of each one, and lightly dust with the icing sugar.

 

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