Friday, 31 August 2012

Apple Tart

Recipe adapted from Beyond The Plate

Apple Tart

For the short crust pastry

1 egg yolk
2tbsp cold water
1tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
66g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
114g unsalted butter, cold and cut into little cubes
For the Filling
about 3 apples (cooking or eating)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
100g granulated sugar
½ tsp corn flour
3 eggs
200ml double cream

brown sugar

1. For the pastry, mix together the egg yolk, water and vanilla in a small bowl. In a food processor, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Blend in the butter and blitz until evenly distributed. Mix in the egg mixture. Transfer the dough onto a work surface, shape into a ball and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Once the dough has chilled enough, unwrap the cling film and roll out the dough on a lightly-floured work surface. Press into a 9 inch tart dish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/mark 5.

3. Put some baking paper into the pastry case and pour over some baking beans or raw rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, before removing the beans/rice and baking paper and returning to the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pastry is dry. Remove the pastry from the oven and turn the temperature to 200C/400F/mark 6.

4. Core and slice the apples very finely and arrange over the pastry.

5. For the filling, whisk together the vanilla, granulated sugar, corn flour, eggs and cream. Pour this mixture over the tart, sprinkle with plenty of brown sugar and bake for 30-40 minutes or until set. Leave to cool a little before serving with cream.

Chocolate & Cherry Tart

This makes two fairly small tarts; for the first, I just laid a few cherries on the top, but for the second tart I halved some cherries and pushed them through the ganache before topping with more cherries.

Pitting cherries is messy business- the best way, I find, is to poke around the centre of the cherry with a skewer, then push through with a chopstick. If you have a metal straw, that would work best.

Recipe from Always With Butter
Chocolate & Cherry Tart

For the pastry
140g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
200g plain flour
For the ganache
227g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
215g dark brown soft sugar
180ml double cream
1tsp salt

cherries, pitted

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4. Line two small loaf pans with baking paper.

2. In a mixing bowl or food processor, beat together the butter and sugar. Mix in the salt and egg yolk, then the flour. Once well combined, press into the bases and about 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then place baking paper on top of the pastry and pour baking beans/raw rice on top. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the beans/rice and paper and bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is no longer moist. Leave to cool.

3. For the ganache, combine the chocolate, sugar, cream and salt in a heatproof bowl and heat over a pan of simmering water. Stir while heating until all the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and pour into the pastry cases. Leave for 10 minutes before topping with the cherries. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Blackberry Crumble

Blackberry Crumble
serves 6

For the filling

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
For the crumble
75g plain flour
75g light brown soft sugar
50g ground almonds
50g unsalted butter, cold

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/mark 5.

2. Melt the butter and sugar for the filling in a saucepan over a low heat. Add in enough blackberries to fill a 3 pint dish (with enough space for the crumble layer). Stir to coat the blackberries in the sugar, and add more sugar if necessary. Transfer to the dish.

3. For the crumble topping, mix together the flour, sugar and almonds in a food processor. Add in the butter and pulse to combine and create a fine crumbly mixture. Pour over the blackberries in the dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown all over. Serve with plenty of cream. 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Blackberry & White Chocolate Mousse

I went blackberry picking a few mornings ago, which resulted in a haul of 1.8kg of fresh blackberries, and a little head-scratching for blackberry recipes. I soon remembered having seen this recipe on The Boy Who Bakes. It makes for a wonderfully summery dessert, and the portions can be altered to suit your appetite. 

We didn't really have any biscuits to go with the mousses (they aren't absolutely necessary, but  I would definitely recommend serving with a biscuit), but then I remembered we had a reject-muller yoghurt in the fridge which comes with little white chocolate biscuit balls. How fortunate.

White Chocolate & Blackberry Mousse
serves 6

For the white chocolate ganache
100ml double cream
100g white chocolate, chopped
For the blackberry compote
300g blackberries
juice of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
For the white chocolate mousse
200g white chocolate, chopped
250ml double cream
2 egg whites
25g caster sugar

white chocolate

1. For the ganache, place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl and bring the cream to a simmer in a saucepan or heat proof bowl in the microwave. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Divide the ganache amongst 6 serving glasses and refrigerate.

2. For the compote, put the blackberries, lemon juice and sugar into a saucepan and heat gently until the berries have softened and released some juice. Spoon some of the liquid from the compote over the ganache and return the glasses to the fridge.

3. For the mousse, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Set aside to cool. In a medium-large bowl, whip the double cream to soft peaks. In another bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks and gradually whisk in the sugar, still beating until the meringue forms firm peaks upon lifting out the whisk. Carefully fold the meringue, in thirds, into the cream. Gradually fold the melted chocolate into the mousse. Pour the mousse into the glasses and return to the fridge for a few hours. To serve, top with the remaining blackberries and blackberry juice and a few shavings of white chocolate.

Blackberry Jam

Another 2kg of blackberries and another blackberry post...

Recipe from Food In Jars

Blackberry Jam
makes about 3 regular jars full

1.4l (6 cups) blackberry pulp (8-9 cups whole blackberries)
800g (4 cups) sugar
juice of one lemon
1 packet pectin

1. Blend the blackberries in a food processor and strain through a sieve to remove seeds.

2. Heat the pulp and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Mix in the lemon juice and bring to the boil, stirring to prevent it from boiling over.

3. Once the consistency has thickened a little, mix in the pectin and boil for at least 5 minutes. Once the jam is at setting consistency, (to check, drizzle a little bit of jam over a cool spoon and see if it is thick enough once cool) pour the jam into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Blackberry Muffins

Another blackberry recipe! And there are plenty more where this came from. It occurred to me that the last (and first) time I made muffins was my first independent venture into the kitchen. I wanted to make chocolate chip muffins, but we had no chocolate chips. I ended up making cocoa muffins, and after tasting them, realised I had measured out the salt in tablespoons instead of teaspoons. I went back into the kitchen the following weekend to correct my short-comings, and I guess things just escalated from there and got a little out of hand...

Smiley face muffin

These muffins would work really nicely with a few white chocolate chunks mixed through with the blackberries. Another way to add a chocolatey twist to these muffins is to cut out a cone from the tops of the muffins, spoon in a little ganache, and replace the muffin tops. The muffins could be microwaved to make them nice and hot and melty.

Recipe from Simply Recipes

Blackberry Muffins
makes 18

300g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
240ml sour cream
1tsp milk
200g caster sugar
115g unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp vanilla extract
160g blackberries


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/mark 6 and line muffin pans with 18 paper cases.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon together into a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, sour cream, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla.

4. Fold the dry mix into the egg mixture until just incorporated, and then fold through the blackberries.

5. Spoon the batter into the paper cases, filling them to about 2 thirds of the height of the cases. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffins comes out clean.

*Once baked, a cone may be cut out of the tops of the muffins, pointing down.  Once removed, a teaspoon of white chocolate ganache may be added to the crevice before replacing the cone and microwaving for 10-20 seconds.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Pistachio & Raspberry Cakes

A birthday treat for a pistachio lover. I found this recipe after somewhat of a goose-chase over the internet searching for pistachio cake recipes.

Remaining cuttings can be cut into cubes (or any shapes) and made into little cake-bites. They could also be turned into cake pops.

The pistachio creme au beurre is rather buttery, but the tartness of the raspberries cuts through it. If you weren't using raspberries (or just couldn't be bothered with making the buttercream), you could fold the pistachio paste into some whipped cream to top the cakes.

I packaged this in little home-made pastry boxes.

Pistachio & Raspberry Cakes
makes 10 6cm-round cakes

For the pistachio cake
100g pistachios
200g unsalted butter
120g plain flour, sifted
180g caster sugar
4 eggs
For the pistachio buttercream
250g unsalted butter
50ml water
140ml caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1-2 tsp pistachio paste (about 10-20 pistachios blended into a fine paste with a drizzle of oil)

400g raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/mark 2 and butter a 25cm round cake pan.

2. For the sponge, process the pistachios and half  the sugar until the pistachios have been very finely chopped.

3. Whisk together the butter and remaining 90g sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the eggs and then the flour and ground pistachio/sugar mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool and then remove the cake from the pan.

4. For the pistachio buttercream, whisk the butter until pale and fluffy. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan until it dissolves and reaches 118C.

5. Whisk the yolks and eggs in a separate bowl until pale and creamy. Slowly pour the syrup (once it has reached 118C) over the eggs and egg yolks and quickly whisk to incorporate. Keep whisking until the mixture has dropped to room temperature. Beat in the butter and continue whisking until the buttercream is smooth. Whisk in the pistachio paste.

6. To assemble, cut 6cm disks out of the sponge and pipe or spread the buttercream on top of the disks. Top with raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

* Instead of making pistachio buttercream to top the cakes, the pistachio paste can be folded through firmly whipped cream.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

Complete with little wafer cones, this frosting really does taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I often avoid making these types of chocolate cake, as although they taste lovely, the delicate texture makes it incredibly difficult to frost. When you spread the frosting around the cake, it has a tendency to pull of bits of the cake. Fortunately, there are tiny chocolate pieces in the frosting, so if any crumbs mix in, they'll be cunningly disguised. I would recommend putting the cake in the fridge before icing it and before applying a second layer.

For the 'ice creams', simply scoop remaining frosting into three little blobs and place atop the cake, then trim down three ice cream cones  and prop on top of the scoops.

For the little bunting, trim down a couple of wooden skewers and cut out diamond shapes from various patterns on paper. Fold the diamonds in half to form triangles. Tie a piece of string from one skewer to the other and attach the folded diamonds- glue the tips together.

Recipe from Raspberri Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

For the sponges
180g cake flour (plain flour with 3tbsp substituted for corn flour) (1 ½ cups)
37g cocoa (9tbsp)
1 ½ tsp salt
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
115g unsalted butter (1 stick)
300g caster sugar (1 ½ cup)
2 eggs
120ml coffee/water (½ cup)
120ml milk (½ cup)
For the frosting
280g unsalted butter (2 ½ sticks)
500g icing sugar, sifted (4 cups)
150g dark chocolate, finely chopped/processed
2-3tsp peppermint extract
green food colouring

Ice cream cones, made smaller by halving the height (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4 and butter and line two 9 inch cake pans.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until both have been well incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee and milk. In alternating thirds, starting with the flour mixture, mix in the flour and coffee mixtures to the butter mixture.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Leave to cool before taking the cakes out of  the tins.

5. For the frosting, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the chocolate. Beat in the peppermint extract to taste and the food colouring until the desired shade is achieved.

6. Once the cakes have cooled, use about a quarter of the frosting to sandwich the layers together, then use the rest to cover the top and sides of the cake and make little scoops of ‘ice cream’.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Strawberry & Chocolate Genoise Cake

I have never made a genoise cake before- or pastry/mousseline cream, and I don't have a handheld electric whisk, so I wasn't too sure about how this would turn out. I also don't have a deep 20cm cake pan, so was pleased to find out that this works in a slightly deep (for a sandwich pan) 20cm sandwich pan.
If you've never tried a genoise cake before, it doesn't use any raising agents such as baking powder/soda or self raising flour, so to get the rise you must whisk, whisk, whisk. I didn't find it especially challenging (despite the want of a handheld electric whisk), and with the ingredients being eggs, flour and sugar (excluding the mousseline cream), it's a good recipe for an emergency when one is out of butter etc (or in a non-baker's kitchen). 

I had seen a few photos of this cake (or one which looks similar), and wanted to find the recipe. I really liked the idea of putting the strawberries around the outside, and it proved to be easy enough.

I didn't have any kirsch, so I substituted it for a couple of tablespoons of brandy heated with a strawberry (mashed up) and a small sprinkling of caster sugar. I strained this before adding 11/2 tbsp of it to the syrup.

Recipe from Le Cordon Bleu

Strawberry & Chocolate Genoise Cake

For the Genoise sponge
4 eggs
125g sugar
125g plain flour, sifted
For the strawberry syrup
150ml water
150g sugar
1 ½ tbsp kirsch/strawberry liquor
For the chocolate mousseline cream
160g milk chocolate, chopped
75g sugar
3 egg yolks
30g corn flour
400ml milk

200g unsalted butter
500g strawberries, halved
For the decoration
200g marzipan
pink food colouring
dark chocolate, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4 and butter a 20cm cake pan.

2. For the sponge, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a bain-marie (I used a large saucepan filled with almost-simmering water, just touching the underside of the bowl) and whisk for 5-8 minutes, or until doubled in volume. Ensure the mixture does not become hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the bain-marie and continue whisking until the mixture has cooled and trails off the whisk in a ribbon when lifted.

3. Sift over the flour, in thirds and fold into the batter. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, so that it fills 2/3 of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until springy and risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack and remove the sponge from the pan once cool.

4. For the mousseline cream, begin by making a crème patissiere; place 50g of the sugar, the 3 egg yolks and corn flour into a medium-large bowl and whisk until pale and smooth.
Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
In a saucepan, combine the milk and remaining 25g sugar and heat until boiling.
Carefully whisk half the hot milk solution into the egg mixture, whisk in the other half and pour the whole mixture into the saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir, continuously, until it begins to boil. Continue heating for one minute, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the crème patissiere is homogenous. Cover with cling film and refrigerate until cool.
Beat the butter until light and fluffy and mix in the crème patissiere. Return to the fridge for 20 minutes.

5. To make the syrup, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the syrup up to a simmer, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Stir in the liquor.

6. To assemble, slice the sponge horizontally into two layers. Line the circumference of a 22cm pan/ring with strawberry halves, pointing upwards with the flat side against the sides of the pan/ring. Place one of the sponge layers into the pan/ring and pour some syrup over the top of the sponge. Spread about a third of the chocolate mousseline cream over the top, and place the remaining strawberries on top. Spread on another layer of mousseline cream, using about half of what’s left- be sure to fill in the gaps between the strawberry halve. Top with the other sponge layer and brush on some more syrup. Spread on the remaining mousseline cream.
On a surface dusted with icing sugar, colour the marzipan pink and roll out to a thickness of about 3-4mm. Cut into a 22cm diameter circle and cover the top of the cake with it.
Fit a piping bag with a small round nozzle and fill with the melted chocolate. Decorate the top of the cake with swirls of chocolate and strawberries.
Refrigerate for an hour before removing from the tin/ring and serving.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Fresh Mint Truffle Tart

This tart is very fragrant, and although rich, refreshing. As is often the case, I did not have a tart tin that's quite the right size, so I used a slightly smaller one and used the remaining crust and ganache to make tartlettes with 3 inch pastry rings.

Recipe from Not So Humble Pie

Chocolate Mint Tart

Serves 12

for the crust
65 icing sugar (1/2 cup)
140g plain flour (1 cup)
20g cocoa (1/4 cup)
¼ tsp salt
115 unsalted butter, cold (1/2 cup)
for the filling
480 plain chocolate (56% cacao), chopped
300ml double cream (1 ¼ cup)
2tbsp unsalted butter
40 mint leaves
for the garnish
mint leaves
melted chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4.

2. For the crust, mix the sugar, flour, cocoa and salt together in a food processor. Break up the butter into little pieces and add to the dry ingredients and process until the mixture is fine and holds together when pinched.

3. Pour and press the crumbs into an 11 inch tart pan and bake for 15 minutes.

4. For the filling, rinse the mint leaves and gently dry with a kitchen towel. Lightly bash the mint leaves a couple of times with a rolling pin.

5. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan then remove from the heat and stir in the mint leaves. Leave to infuse for 20-30 minutes.

6. Strain the cream into a heat-proof bowl and add the butter and chocolate. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Pour the ganache into the crust, smooth the top and refrigerate for a few hours to firm up.

7. For the garnish, use a small pastry/paint brush to spread a fairly thick layer of chocolate over the under sides of some mint leaves. Place in the freezer to set, and then gently peel the mint leaves away from the chocolate. Use to decorate the tart with.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondies

With the richness of brown butter, and packed full of summery raspberries, these are the perfect blondies for when you want to enjoy the season, despite the unpredictable weather.

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Raspberry & White Chocolate Chip Blondies
Makes about 20 squares

200g unsalted butter
150g white chocolate, chopped
300g light brown soft sugar
3 eggs
200g plain flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/mark 4 and butter and line a 25x22cm tin.

2. Heat the butter in a saucepan until golden brown and leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Add half the white chocolate and stir to combine and melt the chocolate.

3. Whisk together the sugar and eggs until pale and creamy. Mix in the butter-chocolate mixture and sift and fold in the flour and salt. Mix in the vanilla extract. Carefully fold in the raspberries and remaining white chocolate chunks and pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until risen and set in the centre. Leave to cool and slice into squares.

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