Sunday, 27 January 2013

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

Yesterday I went on a 'Cooking with Chocolate, day at the Edinburgh new town cookery school. It was a fantastic day and I would recommend their Saturday workshops to everyone.

During the day we made sirloin steak with a port and chocolate sauce, chicken mole (chicken in a chilli and chocolate sauce), marbled chocolate cheesecake, brownies and a chocolate and salted caramel tart.

The chicken mole was delicious and it will certainly be made again in my house. The cheesecake and tart were also amazing. Today I will share the tart recipe with you and the cheesecake will make an appearance soon.

Chocolate and salted caramel tart

makes 3-4 individual tarts

For the pastry 

115g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
50g butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cold water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel

125g sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
60g butter, cubed
50ml double cream
sea salt to taste

For the chocolate layer

1 tbsp sugar
1 small egg
50g plain chocolate
35g butter, cubed

To make the pastry, put the flour, sugar and cocoa in a processor, add the butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, water and vanilla and whiz until the dough almost comes together, Tip into a bowl and bring together with your hands. Shape into 3-4 discs, wrap into clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile make the caramel. Dissolve the sugar and and cream of tartar with 21/2 tbsp of water in a saucepan. Do not let it boil until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar s fully dissolved bring to the boil and add in the butter. Keep boiling until the mixture is a golden toffee colour. Be patient this whole process can take up to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in  1/2 the cream, once the bubble subside add the remaining cream. Add a good pinch of sea salt and leave to cool. 

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the pastry discs fairly thinly and line your tart cases. Chill for 30 minutes. Put the oven on to preheat at 200C/180C FAN. 

Prick the base of the pastry case with a fork and line with baking parchment and baking beans. Bake for 12 minutes, removing the baking parchment and beans for the last couple of minutes. Set aside to cool. 

Turn the oven down to 170C/150C FAN. 

To make the chocolate layer gently melt the butter and chocolate together. Beat the egg and sugar together until thick and pale custard coloured. Pour the chocolate mixture over the egg mixture and bat together until smooth and glossy.

Spread the caramel over the base of the tartlets (if the caramel is too hard it can be warmed VERY gently) and spoon the chocolate layer over the top. Bake for 12 minutes until set then leave to cool in the tin.

Once cool remove from the tin and devour!

These are very richly and simply delicious. The individual tarts we made on the day were in my eyes very big. One easily served the two of us. A little ice cream on the side was a good accompaniment to cut through the sticky caramel.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Salted caramel brownies

The book for this months cupcake book club, kindly organised by Kelly at an America cupcake in London, was certainly thought provoking.

Rose is able to taste feelings in food, the feelings of whoever has baked it. She comes to hate food and the secrets it divulges, preferring to stick to factory processed pre packaged goods.

It certainly got me thinking. I love to bake at any time, and do, but sometimes I use baking when I am stressed or busy as a way to calm down. Yesterday I had one of those days where lots of little things were all going wrong (it all started when I broke my favourite mug) and I just wanted to go home and comfort bake. Brownies, with their chocolatey rich indulgence, are a perfect comfort bake.

When Rose tries brownies a character in the book has baked she immediately knows that they are depressed. Now I was not that bad but I imagine Rose would find mine 'busy' 'conflicted' 'tired' and maybe a little 'upset'. Ugh they do not sound pleasant.

Thankfully I and my boyfriend do not possess any such tasting talent. Mark declared them delicious and I have to say I am inclined to agree. And, with a cup of tea and the Great British Bake Off, they were medicinal in their ability to boost my mood!

Salted caramel brownies

makes ~16, depending on what size you cut them

for the caramel

80g caster sugar
75ml double cream
5g butter
sea salt, taste

For the brownie

200g dark chocolate 
125g butter
50g groundnut oil
250g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C FAN. Grease and line a brownie tin with baking parchment.

First make the caramel, gently heat the sugar in a saucepan until melted, you can swirl the pan but do not stir. Allow it to become a golden brown and then remove from the heat. Immediately add in the double cream, it will bubble up quite violently, and stir well. Put the pan back over a low heat and gently warm until thickened slightly, it should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and sea salt, add the salt a little at a time, tasting as you go. Set aside while you make the brownie mix.  

Place the butter, oil and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to melt, stirring from time to time. When fully melted remove the bowl from the heat and mix in the sugar until full incorporated. Next stir in the flour until no more remains visible. Finally add the eggs one at time and stir until fully combined. 

Pour half the brownie mix into the prepared pan and level out with a spatula, or the back of a spoon. Drizzle over the caramel in an even ish layer. Nb this is not a thick separate layer of caramel, instead a substantial swirly throughout the centre.

Pour the rest of the batter over, making sure all the caramel is covered.

Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes until flaky on top but not overcooked, you want a nice fudgey centre! Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least an hour this will make removal  much easier. 
A little bit of caramel tries to escape!
Using the baking parchment to help you, lift the brownie from the tin and transfer it to a wire rack. When fully cool cut with a sharp knife into whatever size brownie pieces you require.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Danish pastries

Danish pastries take time and effort to make yourself  Would I say they were worth it? That would be a definite YES.

I thought that I did not like them and only made some for two reasons. Firstly my boyfriend loves them and secondly they begin with D, this months alpha bakes letter. So I decided to earn extra girlfriend points and make them. They looked rather enticing as they emerged from the oven and so I tried one, and what do you know, another thing I like when made at home and not bought in shops. I think I have lost girlfriend points however for eating half instead of letting him have them all...

The Danish pasty is a little time consuming to make. It is interesting in that the base is like an enriched dough, similar to brioche, but then the butter is incorporated as a block and folded in, similar to puff pastry. 

The baked result is a fantastic texture, soft, light dough in the centre with a flake on the outside.

I followed Paul Hollywood's recipe for Danish pastry. It is lengthy description and I could not phrase it any better, nor am I going to copy it word for word. Though I do urge you to look up his recipe and give it a go. 

The Danish I made contained raisins and pastry cream (a pain aux raisin, if you prefer) mainly as I had raisins in the cupboard but I definitely want to try a few others , such as apple and apricot. 

Interestingly I learnt something about pastry cream. If you do not quite cook it enough and even once it is cooled it is not quite thick enough all is not lost. It turns out that you can put it back in the pan and cook it out a little more. I figured it was worth a try before making a new batch, and it paid off!

I imagine these are very nice for breakfast but its Saturday and snowy and I did not want to come out from the duvet. I can confirm that they are just as delicious with a cup of tea as a post lunch dessert!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Daisy cupcakes

As you may well imagine I received a plethora of baking/ cooking related gifts for Christmas (including a blowtorch!), among them were cute little wafer daisies.

I imagine these daisies could be used in a while number of ways to pretty up your bakes, I myself used them to decorate little orange and lemon cupcakes, these cupcakes are lovely to eat but to look at, perhaps not the most exciting. These little daises are perfect for making them look as fresh and 'springlike' as they taste (Yes I know its January and -2, but I am allowed to dream of spring)

I am going to be a little sneaky and enter these into this months alpha bakes, the letter this month is 'D' and D is for daisy!

Orange and lemon daisy cupcakes

makes between 10 and 12 depending on cupcake liner size

80g butter
50g natural yoghurt or low fat natural yoghurt (not fat free)
125g caster sugar
zest and juice of a lemon
zest and juice of an orange
1 large egg
130g self raising flour
1 tablespoon of milk

125g butter
250g icing sugar
1/2 tablespoon of milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C FAN and line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

Beat the butter, sugar and zest of the orange and lemon until light and fluffy. Beat in the yoghurt until combined. Add the egg and beat for a further minute. Beat in the flour on slow until just incorporated. Add the milk, 1/2 tablespoon of the orange  juice and 1/2 tablespoon of the lemon juice and beat for a final minute. Divide the mix equally between the cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for ~20 minutes until golden and spring, transfer to a wire rack to cool fully.

For the frosting beat the butter and icing sugar until combined. add the milk and beat until very light and fluffy. Add 1/2 tablespoon of each of the lemon juice and orange juice and beat for a further minute.

Frost the cupcakes and top with a wafer daisy. Et Voilà. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Wheaten bread

My boyfriend is Northern Irish and absolutely adores wheaten bread. For the uninitiated this is a wholemeal soda bread, soda bread uses no yeast and relies on bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk for its texture. To be honest its not my favourite bread, though I do like it toasted. Still it takes literally seconds to whip up and lasts well in a tin so I don't mind making it on a pretty regular basis, just for him.

Wheaten bread

makes 1 large loaf

300g wholemeal bread flour
100g white bread flour
tsp salt
tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
300ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C FAN. Mix the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl. Rub in the butter, with your fingertips, until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the buttermilk then bring together with your hands. You may need a little extra milk, I use regular milk to 'rinse' out the buttermilk pot and add that until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into a round and place onto a baking tray. If you wish brush the top with milk and sprinkle on a few oats. Press a knife deep into the dough to create four farls (wedges). 

Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until fully cooked, it should sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Allow to fully cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.  

Monday, 14 January 2013

Rhubarb and ginger soufflés

Happy new year everyone! My first post of the new year was never meant to be so delayed. Just after new year I was struck down by a sort of flu and once I was well enough to bake I realised I had left my camera at the family home after Christmas! Never mind, here I am.

Has anyone made resolutions? They are often made in the aftermath of Christmas excess, and if you have I wish you luck.

After Christmas its all very well to be full of good intentions but you may still want sweet things or maybe you are having a birthday celebration or dinner party and want a delicious but virtuous dessert. May I introduce your saviour, the rhubarb and ginger soufflé!

An added bonus is that forced rhubarb is in season at the moment, it is a delightful pink colour and will give your soufflés a gorgeous colour.

Each of these is approx 100 calories and low in fat, if you want an additional extra how about these orange tuile biscuits, add a couple to your soufflé and you will have a fantastic dessert all for under 200 calories. Happy new year indeed!

n.b. if you do not like ginger simply leave it out for an equally delicious plain rhubarb soufflé

Rhubarb and ginger soufflés

makes 4

For the rhubarb purée

175g rhubarb
20g caster sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornflour
ball of stem ginger, finely chopped

For the soufflé

3 medium egg whites
40g caster sugar

First make the purée. Slice the rhubarb into small pieces and put in  saucepan with the sugar, chopped ginger and a splash of water. Cook for ~10 minutes, over a medium heat, util the rhubarb breaks down. Mix the cornflour with a splash of water and add it to the pan, cook for ~ 1 minute until thickened. Use a blender to whiz to a smooth purée and then set aside to cool. 

When ready to make the soufflé preheat the oven to 190C/170C FAN. Butter 4 ramekins and dust them with a little caster sugar. Whisk the egg whites with half the sugar until soft peaks forms. Add the rest of the sugar, turn up the speed, and whisk until glossy medium firm peaks form.

Using a metal spoon fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the rhubarb purée  Gradually fold in the remaining egg white. Divide the mix between the ramekins, bake for 10 minutes and serve straight away.