Tivoli Road Bakery’s Monte Carlos with Davidson Plum
This is an edited extract from The Tivoli Road Baker by Michael James with Pippa James published by Hardie Grant Books.
This version is a nice way to showcase this delicious Davidson plum jam. Davidson plums are a tropical bushfood unique to the rainforest regions of northern Australia. A sour fruit with a deep burgundy flesh and distinct tart flavour, they are becoming widely available throughout Australia and are definitely worth seeking out. If you find them hard to come by, substitute with other red plums, but reduce the quantity of sugar by half.’
Davidson plum jam
- Pit the plums (each contains two stones) then finely chop the flesh, Heat the plums* and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high and boil rapidly for 5–7 minutes until the setting point is reached (see Bakery notes, above). You want a fairly thick jam, so the consistency should be syrupy. Pour into a sterilised jar and cool completely.
- *If using the freeze dried Davidson Plum powder, add 1/2 cup water to the sugar mixture.
- Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until pale. Add the brown sugar and vanilla then cream for another 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Gradually add the flour and baking powder and beat until the mixture just comes together. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Divide the dough into two and press each batch into a rectangle 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ in) thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Place each piece of dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll into a sheet 1 cm (½ in) thick, then return to the fridge for around 1½ hours, to set firm.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (340˚F) and line two trays with baking paper. Use a 6 cm (2½ in) round cookie cutter to cut out 24 discs and place them on the trays, leaving at least 3 cm (1¼ in) between each. Bake for 10–12 minutes, turning the tray halfway through for an even bake, until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and set aside to cool completely.
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream until very pale and fluffy.
- Lay out 12 of your cookies, bottom-side up. Fill one piping (icing) bag with the jam and another with the buttercream. If the buttercream feels soft and difficult to handle, refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm it up a little.
- Pipe a thin layer of jam (around 1 tablespoon worth) onto each biscuit, leaving a 5 mm (¼ in) border around the edge. Pipe a thick layer of buttercream directly on top of the jam. Sandwich together with a second biscuit (from the remaining 12) bottom-side down, and gently press down until the jam and cream have spread to the edges. Leave them for at least an hour so the buttercream can set.
- Dust with icing sugar to serve, if desired. These biscuits are best eaten the next day, so the flavours can mingle and the biscuits can soften slightly.
To check if your jam is ready, perform the set test. Put a plate in the freezer before you start to make the jam. Take the plate out when you think the jam is about ready, place a couple of drops of jam on the plate and put it in the fridge for a minute. Draw a line through the jam to check the consistency. Return to the heat if it is looser than you would like.
Any dough left over after cutting the biscuits can be rolled together and frozen for use at another time.
You can spoon the jam and buttercream onto the shortbread biscuits, rather than piping them, but you won’t get quite as clean a finish as if you were to pipe them.