Sunday, 29 April 2012

Heston's Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK... so  these chocolate chip cookies (which I swear by) may have some serious competition. Nigella's ones are better if you want something a bit more substantial, something chunky. On the other hand, these cookies are so crisp and buttery, yet somehow more light. Though I very often substitute milk for dark chocolate, the dark chocolate in these chips really works well and makes for an altogether more high-brow cookie.
Thank you, Heston.

Again, I would freeze the dough before baking it- just freeze the blobs until firm, but you can keep dough in the freezer for up to about 6 months. The ingredients listed makes enough dough for about 20 cookies, so it's a good idea to keep some of the batch in the freezer to bake later. 

Heston’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chocolate chips:

20g golden syrup

140g double cream
125g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Cookie dough:
440g flour
½tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp baking powder
5g salt
½tsp coffee powder
230g cold unsalted butter, cubed
520g caster sugar
2 eggs
15g vanilla extract    


1. For the chocolate chips, gently heat the golden syrup and cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water.

2. Once the cream has come to a simmer, take the pan off the heat, mix in the salt and add to the melted chocolate (also removed from the heat), a third at a time to ensure thorough incorporation. Leave to cool a little.

3. Pour the chocolate mixture on to a baking tray (about 20x30cm) lined with baking paper. Leave to cool to room temperature for about 1 hour. Transfer to the freezer for 4hours, or until hard. Remove from the freezer and cut into 5mm cubes and return to the freezer until you need them.

4. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/mark 5 and line some baking trays with baking paper.

5. For the cookie dough, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and coffee into a bowl and set aside. Using a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment, or an electric whisk, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

6. Reduce the speed and gradually add the eggs. Once incorporated, mix in the vanilla and flour mixture. Add the frozen chocolate chips and mix briefly.

7. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough into 40g blobs and place on the prepared trays about 10cm apart. Freeze until firm and bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Brown Butter Cake with Cookie Dough Frosting

I had a little think about what cake to make my brother for his birthday. Whenever I ask what he might like me to bake, he always asks for cookies- usually chocolate chip.
I ended up finding this recipe from Always With Butter- the cake recipe is from here and the frosting here.

I have only once used brown butter before, though I really do love it. All you have to do is heat it until it turns a deep golden colour, and it will become rich and smell like fudge- when I did this, the whole house smelled amazing. Don't discard any of the butter- including the dark flecks which accumulate at the bottom, as these hold much of the flavour.

Lovely fluffy cake mix. I transferred this to a loose-based 8 inch pan which I have only used a few times- for cheesecakes.

10 minutes through the baking I had a look through the oven window and saw cake mix dripping from beneath the pan...
I scooped up and discarded the oven-floor mix and put the pan on a tray, but it kept leaking- it turned out the pan is a little bent...
Most of the mix was still in the pan, so I transferred it to a 6 inch pan and some cupcake cases. The cooking time was about the same, so if you want to use a smaller pan, the times don't really need adjusting.

Brown Butter Cake

340g (12oz) butter
330g (1
cup)caster sugar
2 eggs and 4 egg yolks
1tbsp vanilla extract
410g (2½ + 2tbsp) flour
1tbsp baking powder
1tsp salt
300ml (1¼ cups) milk 

1. Butter and flour a 7 inch cake pan. Preheat the oven to 180◦C/350F/mark 4.

2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and continue to heat until it has browned- turned golden and started smelling nutty and sugary. Leave to cool, pour into a dish and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until pale and smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract.

5. Add the eggs and egg yolks, a little at a time, until fully incorporated.

6. In alternating thirds, mix in the flour mixture and the milk. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Cookie Dough Frosting

Frosting Dough
55g (¼ cup) unsalted butter
80g (¼ + 2tbsp) brown sugar
2tsp water
½tsp vanilla extract
60g (½ flour)
¼tsp salt
55g (
 cup) chocolate chips  
200g (1¾ cup) icing sugar
115g (½ cup) unsalted butter
pinch salt
½tsp vanilla
1tbsp milk

1. Beat together the butter and sugar for the dough, and stir in the water, vanilla, flour and salt. Fold in the chocolate chips.

2. Beat together the icing sugar, butter and salt for the frosting, and mix in the vanilla and milk.

3. Add the dough to the frosting and mix until well combined.


170g(1 cup) chocolate
90ml(3/8 cup) double cream

1. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.

2. Bring the cream to a simmer and pour over the chocolate. Leave for 5 minutes until whisking till smooth. Chill until the consistency is suitable for spreading.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Creme Egg Cake

This is a great cake for Easter- with the cross-section of a Cadbury Creme Egg, it is surprisingly simple to construct.

The cake consists of six thin layers of white cake, sandwiched with a little buttercream, a centre made of cake crumbs mixed with yellow buttercream and a coating of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate ganache.

I recently purchased a 6 inch diameter cake pan, which is perfect for this cake- one of the reasons I wanted the pan is that I want to be able to make tall layer cakes which aren't too big. You can buy 6 inch pans from most homeware departments, and online (check Amazon). To make this a 9 inch diameter cake, you can double the ingredients listed and bake it in three 9" pans.

To make the six layers, you have to slice the three cakes. I have never actually done this before, and, at first thought it would fall apart, but, thankfully, it didn't. If you don't have a steady hand/eye, you could skip this stage and make a cake with three layers instead.

Once the cakes have completely cooled, level the tops by cutting off just as much cake as needed to get rid of the rounded top.
Slice the cakes in half by running a bread knife, levelly, trough the horizontal centre of the cake, keeping it flat at all times.
Sandwich the layers of cake atop each other with as little buttercream as necessary (you will need the rest for the top and sides). Stop when you have used five layers (leave one). Mark the centre of the top of the cake with a skewer and poke it through the cake. Mark a circle, of about 1-2 inch diameter, around the skewer and cut down with a sharp knife, stopping before the end- leaving the bottom layer in-tact.
Scraping the cake crumbs from the centre, mix them in a bowl with a little of the remaining buttercream and a few drops of yellow food colouring.
Fill the hollowed centre of the cake with the yellow mixture.
Top with the reserved layer of cake, securing with a small amount of buttercream.
Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining buttercream and refrigerate to harden a little.
Spread the ganache on top of the cake and over the sides. To achieve a dripping-effect, spread about three quarters of the ganache over the cake, return to the fridge until firm and pour the remaining (fairly runny- reheat very gently in the microwave till thin but not warm) ganache on top of the cake, spreading carefully outwards to the edges.

White Cake


180ml (¾cup ) whole milk

135g (4-5 eggs)egg whites

2tsp vanilla extract

¼tsp almond extract

275g (2¼ cups) plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
½tsp salt
125g (9tbsp) unsalted butter
260g (1cup + 2tbsp)caster sugar  


1. Butter and flour three 6 inch cake pans (or double the ingredients and use three 9 inch pans). Preheat the oven to 180◦C/350F/mark 4.

2. Mix together the milk, egg whites, vanilla extract and almond extract.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until pale and smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

5. Add one third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until combined. Mix in one third of the milk solution until fully amalgamated. Continue beating in alternating thirds of flour and milk mixture and ensure everything has been thoroughly incorporated.

6. Divide the batter into thirds and pour into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.



100g (7tbsp) unsalted butter

200g (2 cups) icing sugar, sifted

1tsp vanilla extract

1-3tbsp milk or cream  


1. Beat the butter until light and creamy. Mix in the icing sugar and continue beating until fluffy and well-mixed.

2. Mix in the vanilla extract and as much milk or cream as required for an ideal spreading consistency.

Milk Chocolate Ganache

200g milk chocolate
100ml double cream

1. Break the chocolate into pieces into a bowl.

2. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan and pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute before stirring until the ganache is homogenous. Leave to cool and refrigerate, as required, to thicken before use.

Design and ganache from Peculiar Kitchen
White Cake recipe from Martha Stewart

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Pistachio Trio: Macarons, Ice Cream and Brittle

I have been thinking about pistachios quite a lot recently, wondering whether to make some cupcakes, blondies or cookies with said nuts. For a long time now, I have wanted to make some pistachio macarons, though I have been a little nervous about using less almonds in macarons. Because of our ice cream machine (which my mother optimistically bought a few years back with the intention of churning out ice cream on a regular basis) which we sadly never use, since the Sun showed itself last month, I have been itching to make some ice cream.

The egg yolks (and surplus pistachios) left after making these macarons presented the perfect opportunity for some pistachio- ice cream- making. However, it seemed like a bit of a shame to do only two pistachio treats, so I went ahead and whipped up some brittle, too.

For the macarons, I didn't want to make a pistachio buttercream, and thought a toffee- type warmth would compliment the pistachios. I made a caramel and added it to a plain buttercream- you could substitute the caramel for honey, or do a plain buttercream with half brown sugar, half icing sugar.

Pistachio Macarons
Makes about 50


5g dehydrated egg white powder
28g granulated sugar
225g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
60g pistachios, shelled and ground in a food processor
100g egg whites

about 5 pistachios, lightly crushed, for decoration


1. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

2. Measure out the dehydrated egg white powder and granulated sugar into a little bowl and stir to combine, then set aside.

3. Grind the icing sugar, pistachios and ground almonds together in a food processor and sift into a small-medium bowl.

4. In a large, clean, dry bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy and then sprinkle in the sugar and egg white powder while continuing to beat. Increase the speed of the mixer and keep whisking until a firm, glossy (but not stiff) meringue forms.

5. Using a soft spatula, fold in the nut-sugar mixture to the meringue in thirds, until fully amalgamated. Be cautious not to over mix, as you want the batter to flow off the spatula in a thick ribbon.

6. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a plain nozzle (approximately 1cm diameter) and pipe round blobs (approximately 1-1½ inch diameter) onto the prepared baking trays. Firmly rap the trays against a counter top until the any air bubbles come to the surface- pop, with a cocktail stick, any which don’t burst. Sprinkle a little bit of the lightly crushed pistachios on top of half the piped rounds. Leave the piped macarons for 30-60 minutes before placing into the lower half of a preheated oven (300F/150C/mark 2) for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Allow the macarons to cool on a wire rack before removing from the trays and sandwiches pairs of shells together with your choice of filling. Refrigerate and allow to mature for at least 24 hours.

Caramel Buttercream
Makes about 50

230g unsalted butter
460g icing sugar, sifted
1-3 tbsp milk or cream

5tbsp caster or soft brown sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
3tbsp butter


1. Heat the caster/brown sugar, golden syrup and butter in a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up a little and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened and become of a syrup- like consistency. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

2. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until homogeneous. Add some of the milk/cream to achieve a fluffier, smooth texture. mix in the cooled caramel and add more milk/cream if necessary.

Pistachio Ice Cream
Makes 12


120g (1 cup) shelled pistachios

150g (¾ cup) caster sugar

480ml (2 cups) whole milk

½tsp almond extract

4 egg yolks

240ml (1 cup) double cream

90g (¾ cup) shelled pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped


1. Grind the shelled pistachios and one quarter of the sugar in a food processor

2. Heat the milk and pistachio-sugar mixture in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the almond extract.

3. Whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl and whisk in the mixture from the saucepan. Pour everything back into the saucepan and heat gently, to thicken, for about 10 minutes.

4. Strain the custard into the large bowl and leave to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for about 2 hours.

5. Once chilled, pour the mixture into an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to the freezer and place in the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving.

Pistachio Brittle


60g (½ cup) pistachios, roughly chopped

100g (1 cup) caster sugar

60ml (¼ cup) water


1. Grease a 13 x 9 inch rimmed baking tray with cooking oil.

2. Heat the sugar and water in a pan over a medium-high heat, while stirring, for about 9 minutes or until the mixture turns dark brown in colour.

3. Pour the sugar over the baking tray and sprinkle the pistachios on top. Leave to cool and harden for about 15 minutes before breaking into pieces.

The macaron recipe is adapted from Not So Humble Pie
The ice cream recipe is from Epicurious
The brittle recipe is from Martha Stewart
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