Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Custard and White Chocolate Cookies

These cookies came about because of two previous recipes I’ve blogged:
 These white chocolate cookies which are the biggest hit on my blog. I was surprised, because whilst I remember the cookies and they were delicious, it’s still a pretty unassuming recipe.
These custard creams adapted from a Marcus Wareing recipe. I really enjoy doing biscuit challenge posts and so there was quite a lot of pressure when I tried making these as they are my favourite shop-bought biscuit. The results were also a hit.

Therefore, when I saw this recipe for Custard and White Chocolate Biscuits, combining the best of both recipes, I knew I had to give them a try! DSCF9394The result did not disappoint! They have a surprisingly large amount of custard powder in them, which gave the cookies quite a sandy texture and also a slightly orange tone. The amount of white chocolate didn't seem generous in the recipe but I think suited it well because otherwise, combined with the custard powder, they would be too sweet. I think they were nicest straight out of the oven when they were still soft in the middle and the chocolate was melting, as the biscuits became quite solid after a few days. This didn’t stop them being moreish though, particularly as I made them fairly small meaning the recipe made a large batch! They went down a treat with my friends too, despite already having had a bowl of tomato soup, ramekin of jelly and slice of pie each!

You can find the recipe here – enjoy!


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sticky Toffee Loaf Cake

Normally, the cake should be the star of the show – not the icing. A cupcake piled overwhelmingly high with decadent swirl upon swirl of icing can err on the wrong side of rich. However, I think in the case of this cake it is ok that the icing almost outshines the dark cake beneath. In fact, I think it is the best icing I have ever made, it was that good. It is very sweet, rich and full of butterscotch flavour. I’ve made a similar variation before – a penuche icing to top apple cupcakes – but this version managed to be even better and more caramelly than that. Plus, the cake it topped was pretty good too! DSCF9412I like making cake or cookie versions of traditional dessert recipes and working out how the flavours can be carried across different baking mediums. It means that instead of having a bake best served immediately, after a meal, the cake can last several days and be enjoyed at any time. Win. This Delia recipe uses all the classic sticky toffee pudding elements and also adds pecans. Personally I’m not a fan of nuts (other than almonds) in cakes but they seemed to go down well with the family, adding a contrast in texture to the dense squishyness of the cake and icing.DSCF9422You can find the recipe here and I didn’t make any changes other than decreasing the amount of pecans. The icing only uses 4tbsp of evaporated milk, meaning that the majority of the tin is left behind – it’s taking a lot of resistance and willpower not to make another batch!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Caramelised Garlic Tart

I normally bake when I’m home alone, meaning that I have full decision making power in the kitchen and can choose to bake whatever I want from my books, magazines or To Bake list. However, last week these decisions were taken out of my hands as my Mum put in her requests for her Mother’s Day meal. For our main course she chose this Caramelised Garlic Tart, from Ottolenghi’s latest book Plenty. I love Ottolenghi’s shops and recipes but I don’t think this would have been a recipe I would ever have chosen on my own, despite its intro saying ‘‘I think this is the most delicious recipe in the world’ wrote Claudine after trying it out for me’. However, I’m glad that I did get to try it out as it certainly was delicious!DSCF9431It was maybe a little bit more involved than savoury recipes I normally do, but really I think it wasn’t that difficult and you can do parts of the recipe while other components cook. Anyway, the results were worth it! I’m not normally a big fan of goats cheese but I really loved this tart and I think it worked really well with the garlic. Speaking of which, garlic is definitely the predominant flavour – with 40 cloves (3 heads) of garlic it would be strange if it wasn’t! This sounded overwhelming, but after being blanched, fried and caramelised for 10minutes garlic loses its super intense flavour and becomes much more mellow, sweet and soft. Another unusual aspect of this tart was the puff pastry base – I’ve used puff for more rustic galettes, pies and turnovers but not pressed into a fluted tart tin. When you had to bake the case without beans the base completely puffed up but I just pressed it down and it was fine. I was slightly worried that when I went back to the finished tart the filling would be all over the oven floor, but it was all good! Overall, the tart definitely had an intense flavour and was rich but really good with a simple rocket salad on the side. You can find the recipe here and I strongly recommend you give it a try, even if like me it doesn’t sound like something you’d normally make. Enjoy!DSCF9438

Monday, 11 March 2013

White Chocolate Pannacotta with Roasted Rhubarb

I love rhubarb, and I’ve noticed that I often seem to pair it with similar flavours. The early season forced rhubarb has such a shocking pink colour and distinctive tart taste that I serve it with creamy, white and almost blander flavours to let the rhubarb shine. One of my favourite dishes I’ve ever blogged was this Rhubarb Tart from Mother’s Day last year and with its rich cream cheese filling it is a prime example of my way with rhubarb. Similarly with the rhubarb custard tart where the baked vanilla filling contrasted nicely with the bold rhubarb. So when I had a lot of rhubarb that needed using up I made one unusual recipe I have to blog in the coming weeks, but used the rest in roasted rhubarb with white chocolate panna cotta. Well, who am I to break with such good flavour combinations?DSCF9374This time I opted to make my creamy background flavour a little bit more interesting and created a white chocolate pannacotta instead of just vanilla. I liked the result – it definitely felt rich and indulgent and had a really nice smooth texture despite the quite large amount gelatine. It also lasted for a week in the fridge so it was nice to have it always ready as a quick treat! White chocolate is a tricky flavour to make truly shine and I think in this case it would be more an issue of noticing if it wasn’t there rather than directly being able to pinpoint that the sweetness coming from chocolate. DSCF9382On their own the pannacottas were possibly a little bit too decadent, and I think they need an accompaniment to keep them interesting – another roasted fruit such as plums or fresh raspberries I’m sure would work well too. However I loved the rhubarb and found it the perfect thing to go alongside the pannacotta and delicious to eat just on its own as well. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Pannacotta with Roasted Rhubarb
Serves 5

Pannacotta: 500ml/18fl oz double cream
150ml/5½fl oz
100g/3½oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
25g/1oz sugar
4 Dr. Oetker gelatine sheets, soaked for 5-10 minutes in warm water, then squeezed dry

Roasted Rhubarb: 250g rhubarb, cut into even pieces
1 orange, zest and juice
5tbsp golden caster sugar

  1. Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over a medium heat until simmering.

  2. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the white chocolate and sugar until the ingredients have melted and the mixture is well combined.

  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatine leaves. Stir until the gelatine leaves have melted then set the mixture aside until it has completely cooled.

  4. Pour the pannacotta mixture into ramekins, then chill in the fridge for five hours, or until set firm.

  5. Meanwhile, tip the rhubarb into a tin so that they are in a single but snug layer (I used a 22cm square tin). Add the zest and juice of the orange and the sugar. Stir together to coat the rhubarb, then cover with foil and roast at 180’C for 15mins until tender but still holding its shape.

  6. To serve, dip the ramekin bases and sides in warm water to loosen the pannacotta from the moulds. Turn out one pannacotta into the centre of each of plate and serve the rhubarb alongside.DSCF9370

Monday, 4 March 2013

Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes

I think it’s amazing the amount of random kitchen equipment you can get nowadays, Lakeland catalogues in particular are brilliant to introducing you to all sorts of things you never realised you needed – it has 15 different tin openers, a 3-in-1 avocado tool, banana holders and much, much more. It can get pretty dangerous for the bank balance! I’m pretty restrained though, my least used pieces of kitchen equipment are probably the deep fat fryer I’m slightly scared of (for both calorie and fire issues!) or the slightly fiddly doughnut maker, which I should really use more. Another underused piece is a tin from Williams-Sonoma that makes very pretty mini flower-shaped cakes, which I have avoided due to its intricacy and obvious issue of getting the delicate cakes out whole!  DSCF9314When Dr. Oetker offered to send me something to try, I was intrigued to try the Cake Spray. I’d seen it on TV cookery programmes, mainly Lorraine Pascale or American shows, but never tried using it myself. I wasn’t really sure what the benefits of it would be over simple butter or baking paper, but I was intrigued and wanted to to give it a go. I thought the intricacy of all the shapes would be the perfect way to put the spray to the test, as well as get some delicious cakes!
DSCF9296I’m pleased to say, as you can probably tell from the photos, the spray worked perfectly! The cakes slipped out super easily and it was easy to use as well, less faff then I think butter would be for a tin like this with lots of nooks and crannies. I  thought the cakes had quite crispy edges on them, but as I rarely use this tin this could be caused by the weighty and dark metal. I was pleased (and relieved!) with the results and I will continue to use the spray for more fiddly bakes, when I don’t want to use liners for appearance reasons or when I’m out of butter or paper. Now – onto the cake!
DSCF9323I wanted to do a lemon drizzle cake as I thought the bright flavour would suit the cute flower shapes nicely. I found it surprisingly difficult to find a recipe that suited what I wanted with plenty of lemon flavour and a simple lemon syrup instead of crunchy coating or glace icing topping, so I adapted a couple of different sources to make my own! The cakes had a strong lemon zing, the syrup kept them moist and their diminutive size made it very easy to eat several in one go…. Enjoy!

Mini Lemon Drizzle Cakes, adapted from The Big Book of 365 Cakes and Cookies by Hannah Miles

Makes around 40mini cakes (sounds like loads but remember they’re tiny!) or one 20cm/8in large cake

225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
225g self raising flour
2tbsps milk

3 lemons, juiced and zested
2tbsps icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180’C/350’F. Spray your mini muffin tins or a 20cm springform cake tin.
2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon and fold into the mixture.
3. Fill the mini tins 3/4 fill and bake for 10 minutes, until golden and springing back. If doing one large cake, bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack.
4. Heat the icing sugar and remaining lemon juice in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then boil for 1 minute to create a syrup. Spoon over the cakes whilst still hot, repeating until all the syrup is used up.