Thursday, 8 December 2016

Macarons with Vanilla and White Chocolate Ganache

When you need a wee bit of elegance in your life, you pull out the macarons... even if you're wearing yoga pants.

Macarons with Vanilla and White Chocolate Ganache
Makes about 24

For the Macarons:
110g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
100g egg whites (about 3 egg whites)
35g caster sugar

For the Ganache:
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
200g good quality white chocolate, fine chopped
100ml cream

Make the Macarons:
Trace 3.5 cm circles onto two sheets of baking paper. I use this template. Turn the baking paper over so that the ink is on the back and line 2 large baking sheets with the baking paper. Set aside.

Put the ground almonds, icing sugar and salt into a food processor and blitz to mix. Sift into a large mixing bowl. Set aside

Put the egg whites and caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium for about 5 minutes, then on high for another 5 minutes. You will have a stiff meringue.

Add the almond mixture to the meringue and begin to mash and smear them against the sides of the bowl. You don't have to be careful here, the point is to deflate the egg whites. After about 40 folds, you should have a mixture that is the consistency of molten lava - slow flowing. Start checking your mixture at 30 folds and go easy from there. If you over mix, you will have a batter that is runny. If you under mix, you will have a batter that is too stiff. Both with be difficult to pipe. You are looking for a batter that, when dropped from a spoon, back into the batter, it disappears back into the rest of the batter in about 20 seconds.

Spoon the batter into a large disposable piping bag and snip a 5mm hole in the tip. Pipe the mixture onto the baking paper, using the circles as a guide. Pipe until the circles are almost full as the mixture will spread a little on sitting.

Preheat the oven to 140C.

Rap the baking sheet against the counter a couple of times. This will get rid of any air bubbles. Leave them uncovered and at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will allow the macarons to form a skin on the surface. They should feel dry when very carefully touched.

Bake, one tray at a time for about 20 minutes, or until you are able to easily peel the macaron from the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Ganache:
Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set aside.

Put the cream and vanilla seeds along with the pod into a small saucepan and heat to almost boiling.  Fish the vanilla pod out and discard.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until melted.  Set aside to cool to room temperature, by which time it should be the perfect piping consistency.

Pair the macaron shells up so that you have shells of similar size.  Pipe a generous about of the ganache on to half of the shells and top with the other half, sandwiching the filling between and gently pressing them together to squash the ganache out to the edges.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Peanut Crunch Slice

If you ever need a quick and easy treat, this is the treat for you.  Get the recipe for this Peanut Crunch Slice over at Bakelife.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Chocolate Chiffon Tart

You know you're destined to make a certain chocolate chiffon tart, when the recipe and images keep popping up on your feed and your friends keep tagging you in on it.

Chocolate Chiffon Tart
barely adapted from here

For the Pastry:
125g unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering
80g caster sugar
150g plain flour, sifted
50g cocoa powder, sifted

For the Filling:
3 gelatin leaves (mine were Gold and the filling held like a charm)
120 dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
80ml strong espresso coffee
3 eggs
80g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pretty edible flowers for decoration, optional

Make the Pastry:
Lightly butter a 23cm loose-bottomed fluted tart pan.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes until pale.  Stop the mixer and add the flour and cocoa. Turn the mixer onto low speed and mix until it resembles damp sand.

Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and press it evenly into the base and sides, making it as thin as you can.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Bake the pastry shell for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven.. If the pastry has slipped down the sides during baking, gently press it back up with your fingers. Leave to cool on a wire rack in the pan, until completely cool before filling.

Make the Filling:
Soak the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.

Put the chocolate and coffee into a heatproof bowl and place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Don't let the bowl touch the water.  Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the boiling water and discard the rest.  Squeeze the gelatin leaves and put them in the hot pan with the boiling water.  Swirl to mix and the gelatin will dissolve completely. Pour the gelatin mixture into the melted chocolate and coffee.  Mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip with egg yolks with 40g of the sugar and the vanilla until pale and thick.

Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until completely blended through.  

Refrigerate for 10 15 minutes, whisking once or twice, until the mixture starts to thicken.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip with egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 40g of sugar and beat until thick and glossy. There should be no graininess when you rub some of the mixture between your thumb and finger.

Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until fully incorporated and pour it into the pastry shell.

Leave to set at room temperature (or in the refrigerator if your kitchen is hot). Strew with pretty edible flowers if you are luck enough to grow them in your garden or can get your hands on them at the market.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Shredded Vegetable and Soba Noodle Salad

This is a great salad for when you fire up the BBQ and decide to cook some steaks.  It's also terrific along side some crispy fried tofu... or just on it's own with a side of Netflix.

Shredded Vegetable and Soba Noodle Salad
slightly adapted from here
Serves 2

For the Dressing:
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
1 small Asian shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tamari
3 tablespoons sunflower oil

For the Salad:
270g soba noodles
1/4 red cabbage, shredded with a mandolin
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded with a mandolin
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander leaves

Male the Dressing:
Combine the ginger, shallots, salt, vinegar and tamari in a bowl.  Heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to boil.  Remove from the heat and pour it over the ginger mixture.  Set aside to cool.

Make the Salad:
Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.  Tip the noodles into a large serving bowl.  Add the shredded vegetables and shallots.  Pour the dressing over and toss so that everything is coated in dressing.  Sprinkle with sesames seeds and coriander leaves.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Pumpkin Bread

This is the last hurrah from our homegrown pumpkins.  I can't believe I'm still making meals with them and baking with them either.  We had a bumper crop this year and I've been cooking/baking with them so much I'm practically orange (no Trump jokes please).  There was this Spiced Pumpkin Banana Bundt Cake that I posted on Bakelife recently and this Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Butter Bean Salad with Pumpkin Hummus.  This Chunky Roasted Pumpkin and Corn Soup with Garlic Crostini and this delicious No-Knead Spelt and Pumpkin Bread.  There was even this Tortelli Piacentini Stuffed with Roasted Pumpkin and Almonds and Dressed with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Leaves.  You could say I've covered all the bases (or an entire menu) when it comes to making use of my homegrown bounty of the delicious orange fruit... and I did it all without a comb-over.  It's my blog, so I'm allowed to crack the jokes... even if they're lame.😝

Pumpkin Bread
slightly adapted from here

For the Bread:
4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup pumpkin puree (I put ½ small-medium pumpkin (Kent), cut-side down on a baking tray and roast for 45 minutes until soft, then scoop out the flesh and blitz with a stick blender)
¾ cup sunflower oil
1½ cups "00" flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Pumpkin Pie Spice:
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1½ teaspoons ground cloves

Make the Spice Mix:
Mix all of the spices together and store in an airtight jar.

Make the Bread:
Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Grease and line a 23 cm x 13 cm loaf pan with baking paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the pumpkin puree and oil and whisk until smooth.

Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt and use a large metal spoon to fold until the dry ingredient are just incorporated and the batter is smooth.  Don't over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 - 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.