Chef Didem Şenol has worked all over the world, but specialises in recipes from her native Turkey. Here, she shares three authentic sweet treats
Baked pumpkin with vanilla sauce Serves 4
1 kg pumpkin
500g granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
250ml water For the vanilla sauce 1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
We use the whole pumpkin to make this dessert, peeling and slicing it ourselves rather than buying pumpkin slices. I cut large slices, arrange them on a baking tray and sprinkle them with sugar.
I boil the cloves and cinnamon with the water in a small pan and pour the whole concoction, including the pieces of cloves and cinnamon, onto the pumpkin, cover it with foil and slip it into an oven at 180-200°C (350-400°F/Gas 4-6) for 1 hour. Then I turn the pumpkin slices over and return the uncovered tray to the oven for another 20 minutes to caramelise the top. Finally, I remove the tray from the oven and let it cool.
For the vanilla sauce, I cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and remove the seeds with a knife. Then I put the bean and the seeds into the milk and simmer it for 20 minutes. I beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl for 8-10 minutes until they become thick.
Slowly adding the milk and stirring constantly, I cook the mixture on a very low heat for 1-2 minutes. (Cooking on a high heat of for too long will result in an omelette.) To ensure a smooth vanilla sauce, I stir it rapidly and remove it from the heat if it gets too hot. After cooking the sauce, I store it in the refrigerator.
To serve, I place a piece of pumpkin in the middle of a plate, and pour vanilla sauce over it.
Chocolate truffles with chestnuts Serves 4 250g chestnuts
1 litre cold water
50g icing sugar
200g bitter chocolate (70% cocoa)
I wash the chestnuts, then I make a small incision on the flat side of each chestnut shell. I place the chestnuts in a pan with 1 litre of cold water and bring it to the boil and keep it boiling for 35-40 minutes.
Once the chestnuts have become completely soft, I drain the water and remove the shells. I place the chestnuts with the icing sugar in a food processor and puree them. I boil the cream and mix in small pieces of chocolate with a wooden spoon.
To get the cream to firm-up more easily, I add butter and the chestnut puree. I mix all of them and put the mixture into the refrigerator, where I let it sit for about 40 minutes.
I scoop out the firm mixture with a soup spoon, rolling each spoonful in the palm of my hand as I go. Once the mixture is used up, I cover the balls with cocoa and put them into the refrigerator. I serve these truffles with coffee.
Baked figs with honey, almonds and warm goat’s cheese Serves 4 8 figs, halved
2 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
100g fresh almonds
100g Marmaris pine honey
300g soft goat’s cheese
10g pine honey
I roast the almonds for about 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 150ºC (300ºF/Gas 2) and, after cooling them, I crush them, taking care not to break them up too much. If I prefer to have larger almond pieces, I chop them with a sharp knife instead.
I mix the almonds with the honey and rosemary and put this mixture on the upward-facing open side of each half fig. You can also use quince or pear instead of figs. For the best results, cut the quince or pears in half, remove the seeds and fill them with the almond stuffing and bake them. Figs, however, absorb the stuffing’s flavour much better than the other fruits do.
I place the stuffed figs on greaseproof paper on a tray and bake them for 10-15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas 4).
I slice the fresh goat’s cheese into 0.5cm widths, each slice big enough to cover the figs. I flatten the figs slightly and place the goat’s cheese on top and return them to the oven. Once the cheese is soft and browned on top, I place the figs side by side on plates and drizzle honey over them and serve.
These recipes were taken from Aegean Flavours, by Didem Şenol Tiryakioğlu – available now