Monday, 31 December 2012

Chai Spiced Blondies

Recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes

Chai Spiced Blondies
Makes 16

225g unsalted butter, melted
275g light brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1½ tsp cinnamon
1tsp freshly ground pepper
1tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
 ¼ tsp ground coriander seeds
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
For the ganache:
2tbsp chai tea
300ml double cream
400g white chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4. Grease and line a 17x27cm pan with  baking paper.

2. Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift in the flour and spices and fold until completely incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the blondie comes away clean.

4. For the ganache, bring the cream and spices to the boil in a saucepan over a gently heat. Strain to remove the tea and pour over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Mix until the chocolate has completely melted and the ganache is smooth; refrigerate to thicken a little before covering the blondies.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Brown Butter Tea Cakes

These can be made with various combinations of fillings and toppings- I made some with blackberry filling with pistachios, cherry filling with almonds and apricot filling with almonds and pistachios.

Recipe from Always With Butter

Brown Butter Tea Cakes
Makes 12

225g unsalted butter, browned and re-solidified
300g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
470g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
120ml milk
225g icing sugar, sifted
few tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cases.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and mix in the egg yolks, one by one.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In alternating thirds, mix the flour mixture and the milk into the butter mixture.

5. In another bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Carefully fold into the rest of the batter.

6. Fill the muffin cases with two tablespoons each of the batter, followed by one tablespoon of jam and then another two tablespoons of batter. Ensure that the jam is completely covered.

7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until set and a skewer comes away clean from being inserted in the cake (not the jam).

8. Leave to cool on a wire rack. To glaze, mix together the icing sugar with enough milk to achieve a pourable icing and drizzle over the cakes.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Vanilla Mille Feuilles

Pastry recipe from Melanger Baking
Crème patissière chantilly recipe from Martha Stewart

Puff Pastry

for the détrempe:

200ml water
2tsp salt
25ml white wine vinegar
500g plain flour, sifted
50g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the beurrage
400g unsalted butter, chilled

1. Combine the water, salt and vinegar and set aside.

2. Mix together the flour and melted butter for the détrempe until just combined.

3. Add the liquid  to the butter-flour mixture to achieve soft (but not sticky) dough. Roll out to a rectangle with a thickness of 1cm (about 15x20cm). Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

4. Roll the chilled butter for the beurrage between two sheets of greaseproof paper to a rectangle with the same height and width as the détrempe.

5. Unwrap the détrempe and roll it out to double its length. Position the butter rectangle on top of the détrempe so that it covers one half of the détrempe. Fold the détrempe in half so that it sandwiches the butter. Make sure the butter is completely concealed by the détrempe by sealing the edges.

6. To make one turn, roll the pastry out to about 20x40cm. Fold one quarter (lengthwise) of the pastry into the centre and do the same to the other side so that the length becomes half what it was before folding. Fold this in half. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

7.  Repeat step 6 twice more.

8. Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3-4mm and slice into three equal portions (the portions may be too large to fit on a baking tray, and therefore you should divide the portions further, but ensure that the number of rectangles is equal to a factor of 3. Aim for a width of approximately 4-5 inches . Cut each portion into evenly-sized rectangles. Place the pastry on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 200C/400F/mark 6 for 10 minutes. Top with another sheet of baking paper and a baking tray and bake for a further 6-8 minutes, or until crisp and golden on top and dry throughout the layers. Leave to cool before assembling.

Chantilly Crème Patissière

120ml milk
120ml double cream
1 vanilla bean, split/ 1tsp vanilla paste’
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
2 ½ tbsp plain flour

250g double cream

1. Place the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod, if using.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture, and once combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan.

3. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for a further two minutes, whisking continuously. Remove from the heat and pour the pastry cream into a bowl. Leave to cool before covering with cling film (ensure the cling film touches the surface of the crème patissière) and refrigerating until cool.

To assemble, sandwich three of the pastry sheets on top of each other with a layer of vanilla cream between each sheet (a thin layer of jam could be spread onto the pastry before this is done).
Spread a thin layer of white icing (sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract and enough water or milk to achieve a suitable consistency) on top of the vanilla slices.
Pipe parallel lines of melted milk/dark chocolate over the icing and use a toothpick or knife edge to run (perpendicular) through the lines.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Blackberry Profiteroles with Black & White Chocolate Sauce

Recipe for choux pastry from The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book


65g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
50g butter, diced
2 eggs, beaten

1. Pre heat the oven to 220°C/ 425F/Gas 7. Sprinkle baking trays with a little water.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan with 150ml water. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil then remove from the heat and beat in the flour and salt. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.

3. Gradually mix in the eggs, ensuring they have been well incorporated after each addition.

4. Spoon or pipe the pastry into 18 blobs onto the prepared baking trays, leaving at least an inch between each for expansion. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until risen, golden brown and crisp on the outside. Use a sharp knife to make a small hole in the side of each profiterole and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the interiors are dry. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Blackberry Crème Pâtissière

60g caster sugar
20g plain flour
20g corn flour
300ml milk
 ¼ tsp vanilla paste
50ml blackberry puree

1. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and flours until pale and smooth.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan.

3. Add a little of the hot milk to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, pour all the mixture back into the saucepan and continue to heat. Add vanilla and whisk continually, until the mixture thickens and is completely smooth.

4. Take the crème patissière off the heat and place in a heat proof bowl. Mix in the blackberry puree, ensuring the mixture remains thick. Leave to cool before refrigerating. 


200g chocolate
100ml double cream

1. Break the chocolate into pieces into a bowl.

2. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute before stirring until the ganache is homogenous. Leave to cool and refrigerate, as required, to thicken before use.

To assemble:
1. Pipe the crème patissière into the hollows of the profiteroles through the little slits in the side.

2. Heat the ganache or allow it to cool to achieve a a suitable consistency before pouring over the profiteroles.

3. Top with a little more blackberry purée, a few blackberries, some chocolate shavings and a dusting of icing sugar.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are the best peanut butter cookies ever, and what's more, the yield is surprisingly large- this one-egg recipe is enough for around 30 cookies, depending on the size you make them. They also freeze really well (just leave out for a few hours to defrost or gently microwave).

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Peanut butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

110g unsalted butter
270g peanut butter
150g caster sugar
100g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
1tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
170g milk chocolate chunks/chips

caster sugar, for dusting

1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C/ 350F/Gas 4. Line a baking trays with baking paper.

2. Beat together the butter, peanut butter and sugars. Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla extract.

3. Fold in the chocolate chips and roll teaspoon-sized pieces of the dough in the extra caster sugar. Place on the prepared baking trays, leaving about an inch between each blob, press down very gently with the back of a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Rolo Chocolate Brownie Cake

Recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes

Rolo Chocolate Brownie Cake

400g unsalted butter
200g plain chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
200g caster sugar
200g plain flour
2 tubes rolos (+ extra for the top)
For the filling and ganache:
400g dulce de leche
400g milk/plain chocolate, chopped
300ml double cream

1. Pre heat the oven to 150°C/ 300F/Gas 2. Grease and line a couple of 20cm cake pans with baking paper.

2. In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt together the butter and chocolate.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and creamy. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture and once well combined, sift and fold in the flour.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and gently press in the rolos over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until just firm.

4. Once the cakes have cooled, remove from the pans and spread the dulce de leche over the top of one of the cakes and refrigerate to allow the caramel to set a little. Sandwich with the other cake layer.

5. For the ganache, Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and pour over the cream. Mix until homogenous, place in the fridge to set a little if necessary, and spread over the top and sides of the cake. Top with rolos.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Salted Caramel Brownies

The swirls of caramel enveloped in blankets of chocolate velvet comprising this dessert really do render it more of a truffle than a brownie. These do need to be refrigerated before slicing and serving, but they could also be served after freezing to give a more solid, frosty result.

Recipe from Poires au Chocolat

Salted Caramel Brownies
Makes about 30

For the salted caramel:
75g caster sugar
50ml double cream
10g unsalted butter
1/8 tsp salt
For the brownie:
100g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
75g golden syrup
275g dark chocolate, broken
4 eggs
70g plain flour, sifted
sprinkling of cocoa nibs or chopped quality chocolate

1. For the caramel, heat the sugar in a heavy based saucepan, and without stirring, allow to melt into a deep-golden colour. Remove from the heat and quickly whisk in about 1/3 of the cream. Whisk in the rest of the cream and return to the heat, if necessary, to re-melt any re-solidified sugar. Mix in the butter and salt and set aside.

2.Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/mark 2 and line  a 20x20x2.5cm baking pan with greaseproof paper.

3. For the brownie, place the butter, sugars and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat gently until completely melted. Remove from the heat and mix in the chocolate, stirring until melted and well combined. Beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour.

4. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and pour over the caramel in dollops. Run a knife through the mixture to swirl the caramel and batter together. Bake for 20 minutes, or until just about set. Remove from the oven, leave to cool and chill in the fridge overnight or allow to firm up in the freezer. Slice into portions.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Pink Lemonade Bars

When I made these lemonade bars, the light bulb in our kitchen had stopped functioning and as darkness drew closer to the early evening, depending on only the light from a desk lamp, the photos turned out rather moody.

I think these are best chilled a little, and a wonderful accompaniment is a little vanilla chantilly cream- just whip some double cream to soft peaks and fold in a touch of vanilla extract or the tip of a teaspoon of vanilla paste (you could also use half cream, half greek yoghurt).

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Pink Lemonade Bars
Makes about 30

For the shortcrust base:
50g granulated sugar
¼ tsp lemon zest
 1/8 tsp salt
115g unsalted butter
125g plain flour, sifted
For the filling:
140g fresh or frozen raspberries
2 eggs
150g granulated sugar
60ml lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
40g plain flour

icing sugar

1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C/ 350F/Gas 4. Grease and line an 8x8x2 inch baking pan, leaving some paper hanging over two of the sides.

2.For the base, blend together the sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food  processor or medium-large mixing bowl. Mix in the butter and, once combined, add the flour until just combined. Transfer the dough into the baking pan and press in to evenly cover the base and press about ½ an inch up each of the sides. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown at the edges and dry on the surface.

3. For the filling, blend the raspberries to a puree in a food processor (or directly press through a sieve) and strain through a sieve to remove seeds, ensuring you have at least 80ml of smooth raspberry puree

4. In a bowl or food processor, beat together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice. Mix in 3 tablespoons of the raspberry puree and stir in the flour.  Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for a further 25-30minutes, or until just set. Cool on a wire rack before slicing into portions and dusting with icing sugar.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Coffee, Caramel and Chocolate Mousse Cakes & Mock Caviar

The idea for these cakes came from a photo I saw a while ago on flickr. The recipe for the chocolate sponge is from From BA to Paris, the caramel and coffee mouse recipes are from Sweets and Loves and I found the the mock caviar recipe from Sprinkle Bakes.

Coffee, Chocolate & Caramel Mousse Cakes

For the chocolate cake layer:
5 eggs, separated
100g plain flour
90g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
For the coffee mousse:
60g egg yolk
60g caster sugar
5g custard powder
5g powdered gelatine
250g milk
10g instant coffee
250g whipping cream, whipped to medium-firm peaks
For the caramel mousse:
140g caster sugar
160g whipping cream
50g unsalted butter
½ tsp salt
4g gelatin
160g whipping cream, whipped to medium-firm peaks
20g granulated sugar

1. Pre heat the oven to 180°C/ 350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a baking sheet (approximately 38x27cm), leaving some paper hanging over two of the sides.

2. Whisk the egg whites to medium-firm peaks.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift and whisk in the flour and cocoa powder. Carefully fold in the egg whites and once well incorporated, pour the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back a little when pressed. Remove the sponge from the sheet once cooked and leave to cool on a wire rack.

4. For the coffee mousse, soften the gelatine in cold water. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale, then whisk in the custard powder. Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan and stir in the coffee. Pour the milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolk mixture and mix well. Transfer the mixture into a saucepan and bring to 80C. Remove from the heat and cool in an icy water bath. Once cool, fold in the whipped cream.

5. For the caramel mousse, dissolve the gelatine in some cold water (according to packet instructions). Make the caramel by heating the sugar in a medium sized saucepan over a gentle heat until melted and amber in colour. In a separate saucepan (or in a heatproof bowl in the microwave), gently heat the whipping cream and gradually mix it into the browned sugar. Remove from the heat and cool in an ice bath. Once the caramel is 40C, mix in the butter, salt and softened gelatine. Once well mixed in, pass through a sieve and fold in the whipped cream and sugar.

6. To assemble, cut out evenly-sized disks (or rectangles) from the chocolate sponge. Slice each portion in half horizontally to produce two thin layers for each cake. Sandwich the layer pairs together with the coffee mousse. Place the sponge-mousse sandwiches into pastry rings and cover with some caramel mousse, ensuring the caramel mousse layer is about twice the height of the sponge/coffee mousse layer. Smooth the tops and refrigerate until set.

Mock Caviar

approximately 500ml vegetable oil
4tsp powdered gelatine
3tbsp cold water
105ml hot liquid- i.e. coffee
60ml salt

1.Place the oil in an appropriate container (jug, saucepan, etc) and refrigerate overnight.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the gelatine and water and set aside to firm up. Pour the hot liquid over the set gelatine and stir to dissolve. Transfer the mixture to a squeeze bottle and leave it to stand for a few minutes, or until just warm.

3. Fill a basin/large bowl with cold water, ice and the salt. Rest the container of oil inside the water bath, without letting water enter the oil container.

4. Slowly drop the gelatine mixture into the oil- you may need two or three drops to make each ‘caviar’ blob. Once all the mixture has been used up, leave the droplets for at least 3 minutes before scooping out with a spoon and draining excess oil with a sieve. Store in a jar or air tight container, covered in some of the remaining oil, in the fridge until ready to use (up to 10 days).

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Caramelised Apple Tartlettes, Apple Sorbet & Apple Chips

I saw this picture a little while ago, and realised that not only did it look great, but that I had the means to whip up my own version without masses of fuss. The dessert is made up of an almond and apple tartlette, apple sorbet, vanilla ice cream, apple chips and some caramel.

For the apple tartlettes, I cut some puff pastry into little rectangles, spread them with a couple of tablespoons of frangipane each (leftover from these bakewell tartlettes, which I had frozen) and baked in a medium oven (around 180C/350F/mark 4) until light golden. I then coated very thin apple slices in sugar which I had melted until golden, and I used these to top the tarts.

For the apple chips, I baked some thin apple slices in a very low oven until dry.

For the apple sorbet, I cooked chopped apples, a little water and enough sugar, to taste, until soft. I then mashed up this mixture and churned in an ice cream machine, adding apple juice as necessary. This could be done without an ice cream machine- just pour the mixture into a container, freeze and mash up every couple of hours.

The caramel I used was left over from this cheesecake.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

The recipe for these bars is almost identical to that of Nigella's chocolate chip cookies, and they taste the same too, so the recipe posted is for the aforementioned cookies, but to be baked in a tin rather than on a tray as individual cookies. They do make a rather nice change to  regular cookies, and result in a slightly different texture. In order to achieve the most benefit from baking the cookie dough this way, I would certainly recommend erring on the side of under-baking.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

150g unsalted butter
125g soft light brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg, fridge cold
1 egg yolk, fridge cold
2tsp vanilla extract
300g plain flour
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
250g chocolate chips

1. Pre heat the oven to 165°C/ 325F/Gas 3. Line a couple 9 x 13 inch pan with foil.

2. Melt the butter and let it cool a little. In a separate bowl, mix the sugars together and add the cooled butter.

3. Beat in the cold egg and egg yolk and the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

4. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda a little at a time and mix together. Fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Transfer the cookie dough to the baking pan and press into the edges. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and leave to cool (and harden a little) on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.
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