Friday, 30 March 2012

Chocolate & Pistachio Spread

Recently, I've been feeling like time has been slipping through my fingers. The more I plan to do with it, the less I seem to have. Meal planning has dissappeared. I have a backlog of emails so big I'm starting to worry that people will think I'm frankly being rude by not replying. April is coming at an alarming rate. April means people will start saying "Oh! You get married next month". I am scared of April. Purely because I have a to-do list the size of my arm. The majority of which I wanted to get done in March.

This was supposed to be my entry for We Should Cocoa. I made it before the deadline but missed posting it. Massively. You can see the previous month's round up here.

I'm making another batch of this tonight. Purely to be used as a sugar hit to keep me going through the weekend - it's hen party time.

100gr shelled pistachios
150gr good milk chocolate, either grated or pre-blitzed in the blender
1tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp clear, runny honey
1tbsp oil (Olive oil, flavourless, nut, whatever your hands hit first)

1, Blanch the pistachios in boiling water, to remove the brownish skin they retain after shelling, for a couple of minutes before straining and rubbing in a clean tea towel. Give them a quick rinse, shake off any excess water and tip them into your blender.
2, Pulse the nuts, scraping down the sides and breaking up any clumps with a spatula until they are finely ground. You can blitz them as little or as much as you like, I actually prefer mine to have a little bit of texture.
3, Add in the milk chocolate and cocoa and pulse to combine.
4, With the blender running, pour in the honey and oil. The oil is there simply to act as a spreading agent - it keeps it soft in the fridge, otherwise you'll be cutting chunks onto your toast. (This happened in the test-run. I wasnt exactly devasted though - it was delicious!)
5, Blend until you have a thick paste. You might need to loosen it with a bit more oil or honey - simply tweak until you get a consistency that you like. I might add a tablespoon of liqueur to my next batch.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Mocha Meringue Gateau

Things have been a bit meringue-y around here. Scones, mushrooms, ghosts, etc - you get the picture.  I'm certainly not going to apologise for it. I love meringue. 

This cake is made up of three parts - meringue, a light sponge and buttercream.


2 egg whites
100gr caster sugar
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

1, Beat the egg whites until they are foamy and add in the vinegar.
2, Carry on beating the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.
3, Turn the speed up and slowly start adding in the caster sugar.
4, Carry on beating the mixture until you can rub a tiny bit between your fingers and it doesn’t feel grainy and you've reached a thick glossy mixture that holds its shape when you lift the whisk.
5, Preheat your oven to 100 degrees C and line two seven inch sandwich cake tins with grease proof paper. Divide the meringue between the two and smooth out as much as possible.  I found putting a little blob of the meringue under the great proof stopped it from sliding all over the place when smoothing.  Bake for 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave the oven to go cold. Keep them in an airtight container or wrap in cling film when they are completely cold. 

Jaconde Sponge

3 eggs
75gr caster sugar
75gr self raising flour
½ tbsp cocoa powder
2tbsp espresso or strong coffee

1, Beat the sugar and eggs together until really pale and fluffy - at least five minutes in a stand mixer. Beat in the coffee.
2, Gently fold the sifted flour into the beaten sugar and eggs until just incorporated. 
3, Preheat your oven to 170o/c and grease or line three seven inch sandwich cake tins. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for 4-7 minutes or until just golden.
4, Turn out onto cooling rack until cold.

Chocolate Buttercream

150gr soft butter
350gr icing sugar
25gr cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp espresso or strong coffee

1, Beat the butter until pale and fluffy.
2, Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and beat together with the vanilla extract and cocoa powder until you have a smooth butter cream icing.


Add a little dab of buttercream to your serving plate and lay down one of the sponges and then alternate layers of meringue and sponge with buttercream in between each layer. Finish the gateau off by swirling on the rest of the buttercream.  

Saturday, 17 March 2012


Nip from the Hip Plum Vodka and Pip Kentish Cider aperitif cocktails
On Friday, 9th March 2012, I had the pleasure of attending a gorgeous banquet organised by Helen of A Kentish Kitchen which celebrated Kentish food.

I agree with Helen's sentiments that our local food isn't celebrated enough.  It's hard to find local produce in local supermarkets.  Which sounds a bit off.  We've got a wealth of good food on our doorsteps, our shorelines as well as beautiful countryside at our fingertips. It was great to meet like minded people. 

The banquet was held at The Goods Shed in Canterbury and you can find out more about the venue here

Rabbit & Bacon Terrine, Beetroot Chutney, Toast

Rye Bay Scallops Thermidor

Pear, Blue Cheese & Walnut Salad

Local Cod from Herne, Shrimps Butter Sauce & Wild Garlic

Suckling Pig on Rape Greens with Poor Man's Potatoes

Chocolate & Rosemary Fondants with Blood Orange Sorbet & Rhubarb

Beautiful cheese

Helen from A Kentish Kitchen and Chef Rafael Lopez
Helen also organised a raffle to raise funds for Pilgrims Hospices with great prizes from The Whitstable Hamper Company, Eastwell Manor, The Farmhouse and Foodari.  Jim and I won the Foodari vouchers which will be going towards any one of these!

A winning ticket!
I would like to say thank you to Helen, the team at The Goods Shed and all the companies that added to the goody bags! 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Eton Mess Scones

Every year, there are a couple of days were I just long for summer.

Shorts, iced tea, lunch on the benches by the fountain, hazy afternoons, beer gardens, lemon sorbet, seeing the cottage in daylight during the week (this doesn't happen in winter...), sundresses, pretty sandals, Birkenstocks, beach hair. Maxi dresses. Huge salads, mint lemondade, rose wine with the besty, rearranging the garden furniture for maximum sun tanning experience, giving the cats ice cubes to play with, not wearing a coat, or a scarf, jaunts to the seaside.

Strawberries, barbeques, ice cream vans, running for the ice cream van with no shoes on, watermelon, Pimms o'clock, driving with the windows open and playing The Beach Boys, the smell of tomatoes growing in the garden, sunglasses, festivals (although sadly no Glastonbury this year), garden parties, holidaying, sun tan strap lines, al fresco dining, pear cider.

The day I made these scones - it rained. All day. It was cold and windy. The next day was gloriously sunny, still a bit nippy, but getting there. This has brought me to the conclusion that these scones will chase away bad weather. They scream of summer. If they aren't reasons to make them, then I don't know what is...


1 egg white
1/4tsp white wine vinegar
100gr caster sugar

125ml milk
60ml buttermilk
2tbsp double cream (from a 300ml carton - reserve the rest for serving)
1 large egg
240gr flour
50gr ground almonds
125gr butter
200gr strawberries, hulled and chopped


For the meringue

1, Beat the egg whites until they are foamy and add in the vinegar.
2, Carry on beating the egg whites until they reach soft peaks.
3, Turn the speed up and slowly start adding in the caster sugar.
4, Carry on beating the mixture until you can rub a tiny bit between your fingers and it doesn’t feel grainy and you've reached a thick glossy mixture that holds its shape when you lift the whisk.
5, Preheat your oven to 100 degrees C, line a baking sheet with baking paper and pipe small rosettes onto it. Bake for 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave the oven to go cold. Keep them in an airtight container.

For the scones

1, Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
2, In a bowl or large jug beat together with milk, buttermilk, double cream and egg together until well combined.
3, In a separate bowl rub the butter into the flour and then gently fold the liquid ingredients. You will have quite a soft dough at this point. Gently stir in the strawberries so not to break them up to much.
4, Scoop out the dough and form a round of dough about 15cm across and about 2-3 cm thick. Slice into 8 pieces and carefully transfer them onto the baking sheet.
5, Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
6, Leave to cool through on a wire rack.
7, To serve, whip the remaining cream to medium soft peaks, stir through some of the meringue (as much or as little as you fancy) and then spoon into the split scones.

I'm entering these Eton Mess Scones into Karen & Kate's Tea Time Treats. Karen is hosting this month's challenge of scones

Monday, 5 March 2012

Lemon, White Chocolate & Black Pepper Muffins

I made these to take to Homemade by You, a bake club set-up by the lovely Fleur of Homemade by Fleur.

I've previously mentioned the heartbreak at Kchocolat going bust. Their Lemon, White Chocolate and Black Pepper bars were delicious and this flavour combination has stuck with me. Ive translated this combination into muffins. Soft lemony sponge, sweet white chocolate and the gentle heat of black pepper.
200gr golden caster sugar
340gr self raising flour
Grated zest and juice of two large unwaxed lemons
2 medium eggs
250ml milk
80ml light olive oil
100gr white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1, Preheat oven to 200o/c and line 12 muffin holes with paper cases
2, Sift the flour into a large bowl. Scoop out a heaped teaspoon of the flour and set aside. Whisk through the sugar to keep it light and airy.
3, In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, zest and juice, milk and olive oil together.
4, Make a well and pour this onto your flour and sugar. Stir gently until just combined.
5, Toss the chocolate chips in the flour you reserved earlier, shake off the excess and fold through your batter with the black pepper. You'll have quite a runny batter at this point.
6, Pour into your lined muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until risen and golden, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

I finished them off with a simple glaze made with icing sugar and lemon juice

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Homemade by You - Bake Club

Two years ago I never thought I would be immersed in such a diverse community that is based around a single love of food. And for me - one of the perks of food blogging is meeting people that wouldn't normally.

Homemade by You is a baking club founded by Fleur of Homemade by Fleur and I, luckily, living in the next town along from her - had the pleasure of attending. You can read Fleur's right up of Homemade by You here.

Here are some of the goodies that people brought along. I was lovely being able to talk to people face to face about their cakes, learn new decorating and baking techniques and hear the story behind them.

The impressive spread!

Fleur's gorgeous Chocolate, Banana and Honeycomb loaf

No Bake Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Guiness Cake and Gateau au Chocolate Micro-Ondes (a beautiful microwaved chocolate cake!)

The piping and roses on these cupcakes are just so sweet!

Beautiful mini chocolate cheesecakes. Jim - probably the worlds number one cheesecake fan - loved the one I got to bring home with me!

My Lemon, White Chocolate and Black Pepper Muffins - Recipe will be posted tomorrow!