Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bristol Half Marathon, Rest and Recovery, Chocolate Pecan Tart

I have taken virtually the whole week off from running this week. Lots of excuses for this - my poor limbs were feeling a little weary after the Brecon Beacons, there have been lots of things happening with the book, I have had an article to's funny, you can always find excuses not to run sometimes.

Mark and I have entered for the Bristol Half Marathon in September and this will be my next challenge. Mark and my daughter are going to do the South Coast Triathlon in August, but I'm not a good enough swimmer to even consider this. The Bristol Half is not a favourite race of mine ( too crowded), but it would be churlish not to do it when the start is only a 10 minute walk from the house and the kids can come to the end of the road to cheer us on. It is also great to run with so many friends and actually recognise the supporters lining the streets for once. And the support really is amazing - the whole of Bristol seems to suddenly appear from nowhere to cheer you on. Here's a picture of Paula running past the end of my road! The course is such that you can see all the elite runners running in the opposite direction to you - it's quite inspiring!

I have decided to invite some fellow runners back for lunch afterwards and am already conjuring up something tasty in my head that can bubble away in the oven while we are running, something that will be good for recovery with a good proportion of carbohydrate, protein and vitamins. I am toying with the idea of slow-cooked moroccan spiced lamb shanks, perhaps a venison casserole or a Thai chicken curry. I made a great chocolate pecan tart at the weekend, which would a good post-run sweet treat- super for recovery with high GI golden syrup (to get straight to the muscles), 70% dark chocolate (lots of iron), good fats and plenty of minerals in the pecan nuts, protein from the eggs in the pastry. Pecans go really well with chocolate. I think I got the idea for this tart while in the States and we had it with cinnamon whipped cream. It is quite easy to make - if you can't be bothered to make the pastry, just buy some ready-made sweet pastry (tastes better with your own, though!)

I like to serve this tart with some strawberries or raspberries - you get the added benefit of some vitamins and a balance to the sweetness of the tart ...I would not recommend this pudding for every day of the week, but everyone deserves a treat once in a while and it is great when you can find good qualities in such decadent treats as sticky tarts! Of course, you are left with three egg whites - don't let them go to waste, go the whole hog and make some meringues at the same time.

I do not have a picture yet, but will be making another one shortly so will pop in a picture later. Anyway, here's the recipe for a 10 inch loose-bottomed tart dish:

Chocolate Pecan Tart
Sweet Pastry:
150 g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
pinch of salt

  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the salt and make a small well in the middle.
  2. Cube the butter and place in the centre of the well with the egg yolks and sugar.
  3. Work in the butter, sugar and eggs with the fingertips of one hand and then gradually add the flour to the mixture until you have a ball of pastry dough. Knead it slightly to make it a bit smoother, wrap it up in clingfilm or foil and put it in the fridge for an hour.
  4. Roll it out gently (it usually falls apart with me and I end up cutting thin pieces off the ball and sticking them onto the tart dish - it works just as well) Don't handle the pastry too much or it won't taste as nice.
  5. Lightly prick the pastry base with a fork and let it rest in the fridge for half and hour.
  6. Line the pastry with greaseproof paper and baking beans and bake blind at 180 C (fan oven) for about 8 minutes. Take the lining paper off and bake for another 3 or 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool.

Chocolate tart filling:

125 g dark chocolate – good quality 70% or more
60 g unsalted butter
225 g granulated sugar
4 large eggs
330 ml golden syrup
pack of pecan nut halves

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate together slowly in a bain marie (bowl on a pan over simmering water). Stir and leave to cool slightly.
  2. Mix together the syrup and the sugar in a saucepan and slowly let the sugar dissolve over a very low heat. Bring it to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes - stirring all the time. Let this cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the filling into the tart and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or so until the surface has slightly set - this is so that you can arrange the pecan nuts on top without them sinking. Arrange the pecans beautifully on top, so that the whole tart is covered (I start from the outside and work in to the middle) and then put the tart back into the oven to finish it off - for about 20-30 minutes. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper over it to stop the pecans burning after about 10 minutes. The filling is done when it feels set. If you have cooked a quiche before, you will know when it is ready. It will start to rise slightly and the centre feels set if you touch it.
  4. Take it out of the oven and cool before you eat it and serve with whipped cream, or cream whipped with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

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