Saturday, 28 July 2012

Parmesan Crusted Goat's Cheese with Basil Oil

I don't often make savoury food, but here we go. I made this as a starter and it goes perfectly with a few slices of bread- you could also have it with crackers, but you wouldn't want it alone. It's a lovely way to eat goat's cheese, and great as an appetiser or fancy snack.

The recipe is from Annie's Eats.
Parmesan-Crusted Goat’s Cheese & Basil Oil
Serves 4


For the Goat’s Cheese
55g parmesan
30g bread crumbs, toasted lightly until crunchy(1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp salt  (plus extra, to taste)
115g goat’s cheese (firm but malleable)
For the Basil Oil
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
60ml extra virgin olive oil (1/4 cup)

1. In a small food processor, grind the parmesan until fine and add the bread crumbs, blending until the mixture is very fine and the breadcrumbs are evenly incorporated. Transfer to a shallow bowl or plate.

2. Crush the garlic for the goat’s cheese and, using a fork or sharp knife, mash in the salt to form a paste. In a small bowl, break up the goat’s cheese and mix in the garlic paste, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the salt, pepper and garlic have been well incorporated in the goat’s cheese, shape the mixture into four balls of even size. Roll the balls in the parmesan-breadcrumb mixture to coat the exterior completely. If preparing ahead, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.

4. For the basil oil, place the basil leaves into a small saucepan of boiling water and leave to boil for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse the leaves with cold water before drying with kitchen paper. In a food processor, blend the basil leaves and garlic and gradually add the olive oil, continuing to blend. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of large pieces of basil. Pour the thin, strained oil onto serving plates around the goat’s cheese pieces. Serve with bread. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Grasshopper Macarons

Grasshopper Macarons
Makes about 50

5g dehydrated egg white powder

28g granulated sugar
225g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
100g egg whites
1tsp peppermint extract
few drops green food colouring gel/paste

1. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

2. Measure out the dehydrated egg white powder and granulated sugar into a little bowl and stir to combine, then set aside.

3. Grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together in a food processor and sift into a small-medium bowl.

4. In a large, clean, dry bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy and then sprinkle in the sugar and egg white powder while continuing to beat. Increase the speed of the mixer and keep whisking. Once a soft-peaking meringue has formed, add the peppermint extract  and food colouring. Continue whisking  until a firm, glossy (but not stiff) meringue forms.

5. Using a soft spatula, fold in the almond-sugar mixture to the meringue in thirds, until fully amalgamated. Be cautious not to over mix, as you want the batter to flow off the spatula in a thick ribbon.

6. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a plain nozzle (approximately 1cm diameter) and pipe round blobs (approximately 1-1½ inch diameter) onto the prepared baking trays. Firmly rap the trays against a counter top until the any air bubbles come to the surface- pop, with a cocktail stick, any which don’t burst. Leave the piped macarons for 30-60 minutes before placing into the lower half of a preheated oven (300F/150C/mark 2) for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Allow the macarons to cool on a wire rack before removing from the trays and sandwiches pairs of shells together with the grasshopper ganache. Refrigerate and allow to mature for at least 24 hours.

Grasshopper Ganache

200g plain chocolate
100ml double cream
½tsp-1tsp peppermint extract

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 adding the peppermint extract and stirring until the ganache is homogenous. Leave to cool and refrigerate, as required, to thicken before use.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Almond, Cherry & White Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for a family weekend- I had had my eye on the recipe from this blog for quite some time. Thankfully, the weather brightened up and this cake is perfect for a sunny day

Almond, Cherry & White Chocolate Cake
Serves 4

For the Cake
240g plain flour (2cups)
2tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2tsp almond extract
6 egg whites
180ml milk
 170g unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
sugar (1 ½ cups)
For the cherry frosting

225g unsalted butter
255g cherry preserves (3/4 cup)
225g icing sugar (2 cups)
For the white chocolate frosting
225g unsalted butter
170g white chocolate, melted and cooled
170g marshmallow fluff (or 170g melted marshmallows + 5tbsp liquid glucose) (2 cups)
¾ tsp vanilla extract
6tbsp icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4 and butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

3. Lightly whisk together the almond extract, egg whites and milk and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. In alternating thirds, mix in the flour mixture and egg white mixture until all of the ingredients have been incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the centre of the cakes clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pans.

5. For the cherry frosting, beat together the butter and cherry preserves. Mix in the icing sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.

6. For the white chocolate frosting, beat together the butter and chocolate. Mix in the marshmallow fluff and vanilla extract. Mix in the icing sugar.

7. To assemble, slice the two cake layers in half to make four layers in total. Stack up the layers by sandwiching them together with the cherry frosting. Cover the outside of the cake with the white chocolate frosting.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cherry Clafoutis

We tend to order a lot of our groceries online nowadays, and that's how we bought the cherries to top the Bakewell Tartlettes. I only wanted to order about 10, but somehow we ended up with close to 700g. The first thing to make that came to mind was a cherry pie, but there weren't quite enough for that...
I stumbled across many clafoutis recipes, and used this one from Use Real Butter.

I liked the idea of the use of almonds on top of the clafoutis. Although the original recipe said to toast the almonds beforehand, I think that it's not necessary, as they are toasted when the clafoutis is baked.

I served this with some vanilla whipped cream (cream with vanilla paste stirred through).

Cherry Clafoutis
Serves 4

300g cherries, pitted
1tbsp kirsch or brandy
15g unsalted butter
160ml whole milk
55g plain flour, sifted
33g caster sugar + 1tbsp
40ml double cream
2 eggs
⅛ tsp almond extract
pinch salt
25g almonds, slivered
icing sugar

1. Soak the cherries in the kirsch for 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/mark 6 and grease a medium baking dish or several small dishes.

3. Whisk together the milk, flour, 30g of caster sugar, cream, eggs, almond extract and salt for about 5 minutes to combine and incorporate air. Drain the cherries and add the liquid to the mixture.

3. Transfer the cherries to the greased dish and carefully pour in the batter. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle with the almonds, tablespoon of caster sugar and butter. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes or until puffed and brown.

4. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Bakewell Tartlettes

I have been waiting to make these tartlets for a really long time. I got some 3" chef's rings just over a month ago to be able to make them. I think that almonds and cherries go together so well, and have always been a fan of the Bakewell tart. But these tartlets are adorable.

I must say, however, that they weren't especially easy. They aren't too time consuming, but having had no past experience of lining a bottomless ring with pastry, I faced a challenge. I found that the easiest way to line them was to cut out a disc for the base, a rectangular strip for the sides and a thin strip to fuse the base and sides.
I also found that the first few tartlettes I put in the oven baked too quickly, so I turned the oven down to 180C/350F/mark 4 which was just right.

Bakewell Tartlettes
Makes 10 3-inch tartlettes

For the pastry
225g plain flour
30g sugar
½ tsp salt
110g cold/frozen unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
½ tsp almond extract
1-2 tbsp cold water
For the frangipane
125g soft unsalted butter
125g icing sugar
3 eggs
½ tsp almond extract
125g ground almonds
30g plain flour

Jam or preserves (Bonne Maman Black Cherry Preserves favoured)

1. For the pastry, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Grate the butter (on the larger hole-side of a  a grater) into the flour mixture and, using your fingertips, quickly incorporate by rubbing the butter into the flour. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs yolks and almond extract and add this to the butter-flour mixture. Keep mixing and gradually add in enough water to create a slightly sticky dough. Mould the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least  30 minutes.

2. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to a 5mm thickness. Line the pastry rings with the dough and place on baking sheets lined with baking paper. Freeze the baking sheets for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 160C/350F/mark 4.

3. For the frangipane, cream together the butter and sugar and, once very pale and fluffy, beat in the eggs, one at a time. Do not worry if the mixture curdles. Mix in the almond extract, ground almonds and flour.

4. Remove the baking sheets from the freezer and fill the pastry cases with baking paper and rice/baking beans. Bake for about 5 minutes in the middle of the oven. Remove the rice and baking paper inside the cases and bake for a further 5 minutes.

5. Allow the pastry to cool for about 10 minutes before spreading an even layer of jam in each case and filling with frangipane. Carefully smooth the tops and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the filling has risen and is light golden brown.

6. Allow to cool a little before dusting with icing sugar and serving with cream.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Marbled Cupcakes

My friend knows how much I love baking, so she knew I would be happy to make a batch (and a half) of cupcakes for a James Bond-themed party. Marbled Cupcakes were the request- perhaps a nod to the tuxedo was the reasoning behind it... or the fact that they should please both those who prefer vanilla and those who prefer chocolate.

The recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book. These are actually the first cupcakes I made from the book, and I was very pleased with them. They are light and fluffy in texture, but I did find that there was more frosting than I needed. I made one and a half times the  amount listed, but the amount of frosting for a single batch would have been enough.

Marbled Cupcakes
Makes 12- 16


For the chocolate sponges

40g unsalted butter

140g caster sugar
120g plain flour
½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
20g cocoa powder
1 egg
120ml whole milk
For the vanilla sponges
40g unsalted butter

140g caster sugar
120g plain flour
½ tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
120ml whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the chocolate Frosting

200g icing sugar

50g cocoa powder
80g soft unsalted butter
25ml whole milk

For the vanilla frosting

250g icing sugar

80g soft unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/mark 5 and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

2. For the chocolate sponge batter, beat together all of the ingredients apart from the egg and milk.

3. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and milk. Once the other mixture resembles breadcrumbs, beat in three quarters of the egg and milk mixture until the batter is smooth. Add the remaining quarter of the egg and milk and mix until smooth and thick.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the vanilla sponges, adding the vanilla extract to the egg and milk mixture (no cocoa powder is used here).

5. Distribute the chocolate batter evenly amongst the muffin cases, filling 1/3 of each case. Add some vanilla batter on top and swirl with a knife tip or teaspoon handle.

6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Leave to cool a little, remove from the muffin pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

7. For the chocolate frosting, mix together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until the butter is evenly distributed. Pour in the milk and continue to mix until fluffy.

8. Repeat step 7 for the vanilla frosting, adding the vanilla extract to the milk (and omitting the cocoa powder). Ensure the two frostings are of the same consistency by adding milk where required.

9. Frost the cupcakes, once completely cooled, with some of the chocolate frosting and some of the vanilla frosting. If piping the frosting, fill one side of the piping bag with chocolate frosting and the other with vanilla.

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