“Is it a bit chilli in here…?”
Living in such an interesting and innovative food region, I am continually exposed to ground-breaking and unique artisan products that make me proud to be associated with the South West. Here in Somerset, in which agriculture has been the county’s primary income for centuries, farmers are looking to alternative means to buck the national trend of a demising industry. As a consequence, sustainable farming methods have been adopted and fresh new products are gracing farmers markets, delis and local shops across the region.
Specifically, I am talking about rapeseed oil. At this time of year rapeseed is starting to establish itself on our rural landscape, coming into its own in late spring, early summer and traditionally harvested towards the end of the sunny season. Its beautiful and somewhat pungent bright yellow flowers make it a distinct feature of our countryside, as well as being a hive of activity for insects in search of vital pollen supplies.
Fussels Fine Foods of Rode, Somerset, are one of the region’s – if not one of the country’s – leading rapeseed oil producers, flying the British flag, and making innovative use of this ancient crop. Traditionally grown to aid the crop rotation process – used to replace essential nutrients in the soil for the benefit of more high yielding cereal crops – rapeseed’s health credentials as a edible product has recently come to light. With half the saturated fat of olive oil and busting with the omegas, rapeseed oil is swiftly becoming the British alternative to this Italian staple.
With a continually expanding portfolio of rapeseed oil-based produce, Fussels offer exciting new products making use of locally sourced, quality ingredients to arrive at an appealing range of alternative oils, dressings and sauces. Produced from start to finish at Andy’s Farm in Rode, the team at Fussels sow, cold-press and bottle all the rapeseed on the farm premises, making for a truly ‘home-grown’, single estate, virgin oil.
Gaining inspiration from their innovative range of products, I pushed my own culinary boundaries to arrive at my latest recipe – Chilli Chocolate Tarts. Knowing how well olive oil works in rich chocolate cake, I looked to replace the traditional ingredient with a rapeseed alternative. Not only this, but by using Fussels’ chilli oil made for an even more novelty bake. The contemporary flavour combination of chilli and chocolate is bang on trend, and is surprisingly complementary of the rapeseed’s own flavours. Using locally grown chillies from Deer’s Leap Chilli Farm, Fussels’ chilli oil certainly is to be used with caution, but takes on incredible subtlety once baked.
With a few adjustments to my recipe, the fat replacement in the form of rapeseed oil means that my recipe can be enjoyed by those dairy-intolerant, or just those watching their waistline!
Check out Fussels Fine Foods full range of fantastic products here!
- 200g Butter
- 100g Caster sugar
- 260g Plain flour
- 40g Ground Rice
- 50g Cocoa Powder
- 125ml Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 100g Ground almonds
- 50g Self raising flour
- ½ tsp Bicarbonate of soda
- 150ml Fussels Chilli Oil
- 200g Caster sugar
- 3 Large eggs
- Beat the butter and 100g of caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the sifted flour and ground rice to the creamed mixture and bring together firstly using a wooden spoon before using your hands to form a soft dough.
- Divide the dough between 8 lightly greased individual tart tins before pressing out to neatly line the tins. Prick the base and place is the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 170ºc/Gas 3.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes before removing, leaving a minute to slightly cool. Whilst still warm, reshape the cases lightly using your thumbs if their bases have risen slightly in the oven. Set aside and make the chocolate batter.
- Combine the cocoa and vanilla extract with warmed milk to form a loose paste and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together the ground almonds, flour and bicarbonate of soda. Quickly whisk together the sugar, oil and eggs in a mixer for a couple of minutes to form a light and fluffy mixture. Add the chocolate paste before carefully folding in the ground almond mixture.
- Pour into your part-baked shortbread cases, careful not to over fill. Place on a tray and bake at the same temperature for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled, decorate with drizzled white chocolate and chilli flakes for an added kick!
- If you are looking to simply bake the ‘free-from’ alternative, increase the cooking time to 40 minutes. With the almond replacement, this cake is particularly dense and therefore, the cake is ready when the surface of the cake is firm but a skewer will be removed with a little moist crumb.