Chocolate Lime Macaroons

Well hello there. It’s been a while I know, but I just haven’t been feeling the baking mojo of late. A seemingly endless round of family illness and grotty cold weather had left me feeling rather uninspired.

The good news is that this week the sickness has abated and I’m slowly getting back into the kitchen 🙂

My first post flu cravings were for comfort and sweetness. What better than a coconut macaroon to cheer me up. But, as it’s me in the kitchen, it’s a coconut macaroon with a twist. Of course I turned to chocolate as a first choice, but i thought this might make it a little sickly and there was a little extra something needed to take the edge off so I dabbled with a little lime. The results were just what I needed.

This is a very simple recipe and quite quick to make too. They are ideal as a biscuit replacement with your afternoon cuppa, but pretty enough to be served at a high tea.

Chocolate Lime Macaroons

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
160g desiccated coconut
Grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 a lime ( reserve the rest in case your mixture isn’t quite wet enough)

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200g dark chocolate

50ml single cream

Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. The best way of doing this is with your hands. It will feel very dry to start with but you really need to squeeze the ingredients till they start to come together. If it’s not pressing together add the reserved lime juice 1 tsp at a time.

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Turn out your mixture onto a greaseproof sheet and press it firmly into a square about 1 cm thick.
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Take a small cookie cutter and press firmly into the mixture.
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Very gently transfer to a lined baking sheet. You will need to be quite delicate when easing the shape out onto the tray as this is a VERY crumbly mixture.

Keep cutting and repressing your mixture until it is all used. I had enough to make 24 hearts.
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Place the tray in an oven preheated to 180degrees for 10- 15 minutes, just until the coconut has started to brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the tray for 5 minutes to allow them to firm up a little before placing on a wire cooling rack.
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When the macaroons are completely cool melt the chocolate and stir in the cream until it is completely blended.
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Dip the macaroon in the chocolate ganache and place onto greaseproof paper  until the chocolate is set.
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These can now be kept for up to a week, ( if you have a stronger will that I ), in an airtight container.
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A Bientôt.

Marvellous Moreish Muffins

I haven’t actually been in the kitchen very much of late as my lovely hubby has been cooking up a succession of delicious curries and Thai dishes for us, I’m hoping he’ll guest spot here one day with his fabulous spicy pork salad but up till now he can’t be persuaded.

That said I have been allowed in to make the odd dessert or two and I have found one of the simplest and most reliable muffin recipe I’ve ever used. And this is what I’m going to share today. This is a quick bake too- no more than 30 minutes start to finish.

This is so simple and delicious that it’s great for novice bakers, kids and old hands alike, and the variety of flavours are as limitless as your imagination!

I will start by giving the plain muffin mix recipe and method then go through a few variations after. These ingredients are enough for 6 large muffins. If you happen to have run out of muffin cases then it works just as well in cupcake cases and you will get 10 ( guess how I found that out!)

Marvellous Moreish Muffins.

In a Bowl

150g Plain Flour
1tsp baking powder

In a large Jug

1 egg
60g sugar
2tbsp oil
100ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
ingredients (Now for the chocoholics amongst us if you want to make chocolate sponge as well, simply replace 25g of your flour with cocoa powder)
Mix the egg,milk, oil and sugar together in the jug.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl gradually and mix until combined *
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Spoon mixture into cake cases and put the tray in the oven at 160C for 20 until set and cracked at the top if not quite set put back in for a further 5-10 mins
So the plain muffins are delicious, but they are well, plain so let’s have some fun!

*Just before you spoon the mixture into the cups is a great time to start being creative. You can add just about anything here, chunks of fruit, chocolate, nuts or combinations of all 3 of those things. I have found that around 100g of ‘extras’ is about right, but if you are adding things like oats or desiccated coconut you may need a tiny bit more milk as they will absorb some of the moisture in your mix.
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(Now for the chocoholics amongst us if you want to make chocolate sponge as well, simply replace 25g of your flour with cocoa powder)

Here are a few flavours I’ve already tried;
Oatmeal honey and raisin
Apple and cinnamon
Chocolate chunk
Chocolate cranberry and coconut.
Marvellous Moreish Muffins
I’m quite sure I’ll be making more, I’m already tempted for a chocolate and orange, but do let me know what flavours are your favourite.

A Bientôt

Chocolate Chestnut Chili Torte

I had this idea a while ago and thought it would be a most excellent dessert for christmas.  I’ve been  Waiting ever since. Amidst all the preparations all I could think about was finally getting to make (and more importantly, eat) my pud, and hope it was as nice as I thought it was going to be.

Well the waiting is over and I can assure you it was most definitely worth the wait 🙂

There are a few flavours in here, but they complement each other wonderfully well.

Chocolate Chestnut Chilli Torte

  Chilli Pastry

200g Flour
100g Butter (diced)
50g Chilli sugar*
1 Egg (beaten)
Icing sugar to roll out pastry and sprinkle.
(* if you don’t have any chilli sugar there is a method here, or you can add 1tsp of chilli flakes and 1/4tsp of chilli powder to regular granulated sugar)
 Chocolate torte

200g Dark Chocolate

100ml Cream

100g Marzipan

50g Chestnut paste

7 whole cooked Chestnuts

Icing sugar to dust

Cut together the butter and flour until there are no large lumps left. I have this nifty little pastry cutter gadget, but a knife works just as well, but a bit slower. Finish by rubbing the flour and butter through your fingers until the mixture looks like sand. Add the sugar and mix well.

Gradually add the beaten egg and bring together with a fork. You only really need a few spoonfuls of the egg s you don’t want your pastry too wet. When it starts to go sticky on your fork use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. If its too dry add a little more egg, if it’s too wet add a little more flour.

Kneed well until smooth and crack free, place in a polythene bag and refrigerate for at least half an hour before rolling.
roll out pastry to 1/2cm
Once the pastry is chilled roll out to about 1/2cm thick. You will need the pastry to be relatively thick as there is a point with this torte when you will be using your hands and you don’t want it to fall apart when you pick it up.
Press gently into a greased and floured tin and blind bake* for 25 minutes.

*To ‘blind bake’ you need to cover the uncooked pastry with a sheet of baking paper and weight it down with pastry beads or uncooked rice and place in a pre-heated 180degree oven.
cover and blind bake pastry
Take the pastry from the oven when it has started to brown around the edges and allow to cool completely. When it is completely cold remove the beads/rice and paper .
baking rice
Roll out marzipan to about 1/4cm and line the pastry shell.
Spread a generous layer of chestnut puree on top of the marzipan.
The reason for the marzipan, should one be needed, is to stop the chestnut puree soaking into the pastry and making it soggy. And it tastes fantastic.

chestnut paste

Place the dark chocolate in a bowl over boiling water and when it has melted stir in the cream. It takes a few minutes for the cream and chocolate to combine so stir gently until the mixture is smoothe dark and runny.

heat chocolate and cream

Take from the heat and stand for 5 minutes before pouring into the pastry shell.
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Now you have to be patient. Set aside to cool for an hour and when the top of the ganache is set arrange your chestnut pieces gently on top. Now leave the torte to cool completely either in a cool place overnight or in the fridge for a few hours.
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When the torte is solid, you are free to enjoy 🙂

I would recommend serving with a little cream or creme fraiche. The pastry is not overly hot and the chocolate ganache complements the hint of chili without ambushing it completely. But in the wise words of small person “don’t eat the pastry on its own…get me some water”!

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A Bientot.

Chocolate , Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

Yes you read that right beetroot. But more of that later….

As regular readers and friends will already know Small Person has very recently reached the grand old age of 8. As is tradition here on her ‘actual’ birthday it is custom to bring in a cake for the school to share ( this is not as daunting as it sounds as in the whole school  there is a grand total of 20 people). When I picked her up on Tuesday afternoon the teacher confirmed that there would indeed be a cake on Friday, I told her yes of course there would be, then she leaned over to me and asked me if it was at all possible that I could make the same cake as I had made last year as she had really enjoyed it. I was, of course, thrilled that she had enjoyed it so much and whilst I reassured her I would do my best I was also a little concerned as I knew for a fact that I made up the recipe for it and didn’t write it down.

I knew vaguely what it was and that involved lots of chocolate and grated pumpkin, ( we were give a 17 kg pumpkin last year by a friend and I was desperate to find things to do with it ), but other than that I was at a bit of a loss. In any case as we had not received a massive pumpkin gift this year I resolved to go to the supermarket on Thursday and purchase a pumpkin to use for the cake.

Of course you know that when i got there, there was not a pumpkin to be seen. So what was I to do. I could just make a normal chocolate cake, that’s what I could do.

Yeah right.

As I was gathering my ingredients my eyes strayed to the vegetable shelf and  came to rest on a vacuum pack of natural beetroot and my my mind decide that this would be a great idea…… And I’m happy to say that despite Hubby’s “I’ve married a mad person” look, it was.

The Beetroot gives a very subtle flavour in the the midst of the chocolate kick and helps to keep the cake super moist.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

75g unsalted Butter (softened)

100g Sugar

1 medium Egg (beaten)

225g Flour

50g Cocoa powder

3tsp Baking powder

1 Banana

50g Natural (un-pickled) Beetroot

100ml Crémé fraîche

75g Dark chocolate (roughly chopped)

 

Begin by creaming together the softened butter and sugar and beat till pale and fluffy.

Gradually beat in the egg adding a tsp of flour with each addition to avoid curdling.

Sieve the remaining flour cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl and fold in gently using a metal spoon.

In a separate bowl mash the banana, grate the beetroot and mix well with the crémé fraîche .

Add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the ‘dry’ bowl and beat together.

Finally add the roughly chopped chocolate and give it one last stir before pouring the mixture into a greased and lined baking tin.

Cover the top of the cake with baking paper, pressing lightly on the surface ( this should ensure a nice flat top), and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the baking paper after 25 minutes of baking.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cook completely.

Now, these quantities will give you one large square cake, but as I was showing off a bit I made double the quantity so I could sandwich them together with chocolate ganache and smother it in yet more chocolate before plonking a solid dark chocolate birthday star on top and round it of with some white chocolate butter cream swirls! Well it was her birthday.

As I knew there was absolutely zero chance of Hubby and I getting a sniff of the cake, i used a tiny bit of the mixture to make a cupcake size tester (well you HAVE to try these things….) and it was simply delicious and extremely indulgent. 🙂

 

I’m very happy to report that when I went to pick up Small Person from school there was not a single crumb left and lots of children with chocolaty smiles. Thats all you can ask for really.

A Bientôt

 

 

Epic Jelly ….. Epic Fail

I was in two minds whether to post this one or not as it didn’t turn out quite as planned, but then I thought “What the heck, why not” because someone might like it and it does look so pretty….

epic jelly
As I mentioned in my last post we have been celebrating (for what seems like forever) the birthday of the smallest person in the house and HillyWillys kitchen has been under a cloud of flour, chocolate, icing sugar and jelly. Lots of jelly. ( For my U.S friends that would of course be jello )

I had seen this recipe posted on line a few months ago and stored it in my ‘oooh that looks fun’ file and decided that small ones birthday party would be the perfect time to try it out. The fridge was re-shuffled, many plastic tubs were unearthed and I began…

Stained Glass Window Jelly
4 packets of assorted (brightly coloured) Jelly

1 small tin of condensed milk

3 6g packets of Gelatin powder

Make up your 4 different flavours of jelly and set overnight.

Jelly

Sprinkle the gelatin powder into a small amount of cold water and stir to a smooth paste, set aside for 5 minutes then stir again. At this point add 500ml of boiling water and mix until there are no clumps or lumps. Now add the tin of condensed milk and mix well. Set aside and allow to cool.

mix the coloured cubes

When your coloured jellies are well set turn out and cut into cubes and gently mix the  cubes in a large container. Take the cooled gelatin mixture and pour slowly into the container of jelly cubes. Return the large container to the fridge and set for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight.

When your jelly is completely set. turn out. slice and serve.

stained glass Jelly

Now the title of the post will tell you that something went wrong, well 2 things went wrong in actual fact.

The first thing was that I had entirely failed to take into consideration that jelly isn’t a common dessert over here and whilst French cuisine is highly regarded around the world they are not exactly renowned for their acceptance of any food that is a bit different to their usual fare.  To put it mildly the children at the party looked terrified when I unveiled my masterpiece and were extremely reluctant to try it.

The second, and most important, thing was that the taste just doesn’t live up to the look.
Perhaps i used the wrong combination of jelly flavours, but it was just too much of a confusing taste to be considered lovely. The condensed milk/gelatin mixture is fantastic for the colour, but it makes the whole thing so sweet that my teeth were singing at the first spoonful. Perhaps (if I ever make it again) I would use single cream or evaporated milk instead to take an edge off the super-sweetness.

I would also recommend that if you attempt this one, only to use half of the jelly in each pack as there was rather a lot of it to dispose of.

So not my finest moment, but not everything always turns out quite how we would like, so its time to dust myself off and get back in the kitchen.

Thankfully the main event of the birthday cake was a triumph so the jelly incident was quickly forgotten, and I shall be putting up the recipe for that in a few days 🙂

A Bientot

Avocado and Pistachio nut Loaf

I do like a nice loaf. And (if I do say so myself) this is a rather nice loaf.

I made a version of this a little while ago, but it was lacking  …. something. I had no idea what that something was, so I left it and moved on to sweeter things for a while. When I was shelling some pistachios for a recent recipe it suddenly occurred to me that these could be the very thing my old loaf needed.

The problem with pistachios is that they take so long to shell,  I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm for a while. You may notice that in the recipe below I’ve been rather vague about the amount of pistachios used as I got a little bored at around the 30g mark and decided that was enough, but in all honesty a few more wouldn’t have gone a miss.

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Avocado and  pistachio nut loaf

200g Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Salt
100g Sugar
100g Butter
1 medium Egg
1 ripe Avocado
100ml Creme Fraiche
Zest of 1 Lemon
3cm piece of Root Ginger
30-50g shelled Pistachio nuts

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Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Fold in the flour, baking power and salt and stir well.

In another bowl mash the avocado until smooth, add the zest of one lemon and grate in the piece of ginger. Stir in the creme fraiche and beaten egg.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until fully combined.

Shell pistachios and place in a plastic bag and roll hard several times with a rolling pin and crush into small pieces.

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Tip the bag of crushed nuts into the batter and combine.

Tip the whole mixture into a greased and lined loaf tip and cover loosely with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the baking paper cover after the first 35 minutes.

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During the last 15 minutes of baking time test the loaf with a wooden skewer, when the skewer comes our clean, then you are ready to take the tin out of the oven and rest it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes take the loaf out of the tin and allow to cool completely ( if you can ).

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I thought about adding a glaze or crust to this loaf, but in the end I’m really glad I didn’t as it simply doesn’t need any embellishment.

This is a lovely loaf to enjoy the next day when the cake has become more dense (and a lot easier to slice). Either on it’s own or spread with a little butter.
It’s not exactly sweet, but it’s not exactly savoury either, somewhere in-between, but it’s  very good with a feet-up cuppa, and lasts up to a week if stored wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight container.

Enjoy 🙂

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A Bientôt

Pain au Pud

I’ve been mulling this recipe over for a long time and imagining how yummy it would be, but as of a few days ago I’ve never made it. There is a very good reason for this. The reason is that the recipe requires 3 slightly stale pain au chocolate, and they have never existed in our house. Of course one or two* pain au chocolat have crossed the threshold but they have never survived long enough to become even a tiny bit stale, a lifespan of less than 5 minutes is more usual.

Now as it happened I was looking after the small person of a friend for an afternoon last week and when she came to pick him up she brought, as a thank you, an enormous box of pain au chocolat for us to consume during our collection time coffee. Now with the best will in the world ( in addition to the fact I’d spent most of the afternoon feeding the children on freshly made biscuits and cakes ) there was not much of a dent in box when she left. And so it transpired that even after a few days there were a few pastries left lingering in the cupboard. It was time.
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*probably a few more than that.

Pain au chocolat pudding

3 pain au chocolat
200 ml milk
3 eggs
75g vanilla sugar

Slice the pain au chocolat thinly (1/2cm slices) and arrange in an ovenproof dish.

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Put milk into a bowl ( probably a slightly larger one than I used…) and whisk in 3 eggs. Stir in the sugar till well mixed.

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Pour over the slices of pain au chocolat and allow to soak until the slices are soggy.
With traditional bread and butter pudding you have to soak the slices for a little longer, but as the pastry is a lot less dense than bread the soaking time is significantly shorter. About the same time as it should take to pre- heat your oven to 175 degrees should be perfect.

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Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the ‘custard’ begins to set then remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes then make a cut right down the centre of the pudding. I know this sounds a little peculiar, but trust me on this. It will made your pudding rise beautifully, and stay risen!

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Return your pudding to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, until it is well risen and the ‘custard’ is set.

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Rest for a few minutes before cutting, then serve warm with a big dollop of double cream or creme fraiche. If by any chance there is any left over, it also tastes great cold.

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