Slowing down.

End-of-term syndrome has officially hit.  The Christmas holiday is only one week away and it seems as though everybody is looking forward to taking some time off and having a break.  The first term of final year has taken its toll.  The pressure of coursework is ever-present, the stress of a long-term dissertation project only increases as the deadline draws nearer day by day and with exams looming in January, even the holiday is going to be work-filled.  But then again, isn’t that normal student life?  You understand that it’s what you sign up for when you go to university, that each year will be more difficult than the last, and this year is the most difficult and important of all.  It’s the small sacrifices that you have to make that will pay off in the long run; revising over the Christmas period, writing essays when all you want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch TV, returning to university a couple of weeks early to make use of the library.  We all know that it will be worth it in the end, because there’s a degree waiting for us.  That’s what these three years have been for.  We just have to hang in there until the end.

On a less boring (and totally unrelated) note, we had our house Christmas dinner last Tuesday, a very exciting happening indeed!  It was doubly exciting because people in my house are so busy that we never really get the chance to spend time together.  I am not exaggerating when I say that of the last four weeks of term, Tuesday was the only day that we were all free for a house event.  (The amount of organisation it requires to get us all in the house at the same time is unbelievable!  Still, that’s student life for you…)  It was a lovely evening, spent in good company with good food, mulled wine and great conversation.  Each of us were assigned a specific course (I got dessert, much to my delight) and were given entirely free rein to do whatever we liked.  For me, it was an opportunity to try out a new recipe which I’ve wanted to make ever since I bought the recipe book it’s in.  The recipe?  Edd Kimber’s Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Pecan Tart.

Salted Caramel, Chocolate and Pecan Tart – 6/12/2011

Sweet, buttery shortcrust pastry (home-made, naturally) filled with a rich, deeply flavoured salted caramel and pecan filling and topped with smooth dark chocolate ganache and chopped pecans – it’s a dessert-lover’s heaven.

The most challenging part for me was the caramel; having never made my own before, it was a mildly daunting task and I definitely made a few mistakes along the way.  However, I managed to salvage the situation and ended up with a passable first-attempt caramel, even if the quantity was slightly less than the recipe intended!  At any rate, the combination of the salted caramel and the toasted nuts was wonderful, sticky sweetness complimented by crunchy pecans.  The chocolate ganache added a final touch, the bittersweet quality of 70% cocoa cutting nicely through the caramel.

It went down very well indeed, and while it’s not your usual festive pudding, it’s definitely a winner!

(Recipe by Edd Kimber, taken from The Boy Who Bakes.)

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