Sunday, 20 April 2014

We Should Cocoa: Hot Cross Fudge


We Should Cocoa is hosted by Rachel Cotterill this month, who has challenged us to use chocolate in an Easter creation.  The coconut challenge round up can be seen here.   You can read all about We Should Cocoa and how to enter on Choclette's blog here.


I haven't had a hot cross bun this year.


I seemed to forget about them when in the supermarket. Or run out of hours in the day to make some at home.


I like to think it's my subconscious being protective.  It remembers the mince pie binge that happened over Christmas and so it's purposefully making me forget about them. 

I've tricked it with fudge though. Two can play that game... 


Based on this recipe

Ingredients

1 x 397gr can of condensed milk
150ml milk
450gr light soft brown sugar
100gr butter
75gr raisins, chopped roughly
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp mixed spice

30gr white chocolate, melted for decoration


Method

1, In a large, heavy based saucepan combine the condensed milk, milk, sugar and butter and set over a medium-low heat.  Stir until complete dissolved and then bring to a boil.
2, Stirring continuously bring it to soft ball temperature (118o/c) and then remove from the heat.  Stir through the raisins, vanilla extract and mixed spice. 
3, You now need to beat the fudge until it thickens and starts to set, don't scrimp on this stage, this part will incorporate air in and give it it's crumbly and super melt in the mouth texture.
4, Pour into a 20cm lined baking tin and leave to set completely.
5, Divide into squares and the using the melted chocolate, pipe little crosses on top. Leave these to set before eating.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Mini Egg Easter Bread


I'm currently rocking my Awkward Spring Wardrobe (ASW).

This phase of the year is all about making bad wardrobe decisions; like wearing a coat because your cold in the morning and then sweating a gallon on the tube at 6pm. Or putting on a little jacket and spending the rest of the day wrapping a pashmina around your face because you're so cold. 

I don't know how to dress for 12 degrees C.  I'm sorry.


ASW doesn't discriminate - it is all encompassing.  It stretches down to your feet. I chose ballet pumps the other night and it rained so hard that by the time I got home, my toes were like little wrinkly ice cubes. 

And all the way through to your work out gear, I went for a run in layers the other day. Mistake.


ASW is even more awkward when you see those perfect women with their pastel handbags, over sized sunglasses and spring dresses. Oh, and a cardigan artfully on the shoulders. They never look cold.

My idea of adding pastels to my life comes in the form of mini eggs. Soft, sweet, plaited bread dough (I used my Six Plait Loaf recipe), studded with Easter's bounty. That'll do for now, or at least until the weather sorts itself out.


Ingredients

500gr strong, white bread flour
50gr unsalted butter, chopped into chunks
1 x 7grs sachet of easy blend yeast (fast action yest)
3tbsp caster sugar
1 egg (medium/large)
Around 250ml lukewarm water
Hard sugar coated mini chocolate eggs (around five per loaf)

Method

1, Sift the flour into a large bowl and add in the butter.  Rub this together with your finger tips until completely combined and there is no large lumps of butter.
2, Add in the yeast and caster sugar and stir together.
3, Add in the egg and most of the water.  Start to bring the dough together into a ball, adding more water as you go if you need it.  You want a ball of dough that is soft to the texture and only the tiniest bit sticky. 
4, Knead (or dough hook in a stand mixer) it for for 5-10minutes until it is smooth and elastic.  Transfer into a clean, oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm for an hour or until it has doubled in size.


5, When you have big fat dough, knock it back with your fist and divide into six equal balls.  Divide each of these balls into three equal pieces, roll them into fat sausage shapes that are around 15-20cm long. Pinch these together at one end and do a simple three strand plait. When you have finished plaiting, pinch the ends together and tuck them under.
6, Place on a lined baking sheet and cover with clingfilm.  (Optional: you can sprinkle them with a little granulated sugar at this point if you want, it doesn't add a huge amount though).  These don't really need a second rise, instead I just covered them, turned on my oven to 220o/c and then baked them for 11-13 minutes until they are golden brown.
7, Once they are cooked, take them out of the oven and transfer onto a wire cooling rack.  Minding your fingers, as they will still be hot, jam in a mini egg in each of the "plait holes" (See pictures for reference. I can't believe I don't have a better word for "plait holes") I used, on average, five eggs per little loaf. They will melt and crack a bit.
8, These are best eaten warm, the warm melted mini eggs are the best bit.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Game of Thrones Macarons


Things I have learnt about Game of Thrones:



If something bad happens to someone because they were poking around, it probably isn't a good idea for you to follow their lead. Oh, Ned.  

Don't ever pick a favourite. (Favourites = instant death)




Nothing good comes from either being married or going to a wedding.

(Bonus: It still isn't really ok to talk about the Red Wedding)




Never trust a Frey, a Greyjoy, a Lannister anyone.




If you read the books and are ahead of the TV series then you constantly worry about spoiler verbal diarrhoea.




Dragons are totally badass.




Jon Snow knows nothing.

Winter is coming. 

More importantly, the next series starts on 7th April. I am excited.

Macaron recipe from here. Basic red buttercream filling. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

We Should Cocoa: Coconut Meringue Gems



This month's We Should Cocoa is hosted by Laura at I'd Much Rather Bake Than... who has challenged us to use coconut in our confections. Last month's round ups can be found on the hosts blogs of the respective challenges - Choclette's blog and Dom's blog. You can read all about We Should Cocoa and how to enter by clicking here


I pull my food apart before eating it* **

(*not in public)
(** not all my food)




Some items of food have a certain order in which their components should be eaten. 

For example: 
Jaffa Cakes: Chocolate -> sponge -> flabby orange jelly bit (bonus points if you wiggle this all up in of someone's face so they say "ERGH, STAPH, that's disgusting")

I'm not going to list any more or go into great detail, because I'm pretty sure you'd think less of me... 


My favourite one to do, when I was younger, was iced gems.  The biscuit bases would come off first and the piped icing tip would go back in the bag.  Then you'd have a bag of pretty much pure sugar nubs that dissolved when you sucked them. 




I tried to recreate them but with meringue and chocolate. Because they are two of my favourite things. Plus they are a little bit less tooth achingly sweet.

Ingredients

Meringue Tops
2 egg whites
100gr caster sugar
2 drops white wine vinegar

Biscuit Bottoms
120gr room temperature butter
140gr caster sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp coconut extract
200gr plain flour
20gr toasted dessicated coconut
Tiny pinch of salt



Method

1, First, make the meringue.  These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container somewhere cool for a week. Or you can freeze them. Meringue magic. 
2, Beat the egg whites until they start to foam up and double in size.  With the beaters running, slowly add in the caster sugar and drop in that vinegar.  This now needs to be beaten until it is a thick glossy white.  See beater for reference.  
3, Decant into a piping bag fitted with a star tip (size is up to you, you could make giant ones) and pipe little rosettes onto lined baking sheets. Mine were roughly 1.5cm across. 
4, Preheat your oven to 100o/c and bake these for an hour.  When the timer has gone off, turn off the oven and leave it to go completely cold with the meringues still inside.  

5, Make the biscuit based next by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. 
6, Beat in the egg and coconut extract.
7, Sift in the flour and salt, and add in the toasted coconut bring together into a ball of dough.  
8, This needs to rest in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out.  It may seem a little sticky but will firm up in the fridge. 
9, Preheat your oven to 190o/c and line two more baking sheets with greaseproof.  
10, Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to around 3-5mm and cut out the biscuits that are just a bit bigger than the bases of the meringues.  I used a Diet Coke bottle lid. 
11, Place these onto the lined baking sheets and bake for 5-7minutes or until they are just going golden brown.  These biscuit bottoms barely spread so will keep their shape quite well whilst baking. 
12, Transfer the cooked biscuits onto a wire cooling rack and leave until completely cold.

13, To assemble, melt the chocolate, dip the flat base of the meringue in the chocolate and then stick onto the centre of a biscuit. Leave to set somewhere cool (but not the fridge). Store in an airtight container.  




Sunday, 16 March 2014

Seven on Sunday: 16.03.14

Bathing kittens, blue skies, bossy bags, monster hooks, snoozin', explorin', exposed floorboards