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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Chocolate Orange, Malteser Cookies


I haven't done a cookie recipe on the blog yet so I thought now is the time! There's something a little Christmas'y about these cookies too, the flavour combination of chocolate orange reminds of that familiar little box stuffed in your stocking (you know the ones). I also really love the crunchyness of maltesers and of course more chocolate...as if whole chocolate chunks were not enough!? 

I must warn you it makes a rather large batch...I'm talking 24, but they keep well in an air tight jar or tin. Enough to last a whole week I'd say, but depends how greedy the rest of your family are eh? (or you...) You could also freeze some of the cookie dough (raw) for up to a good month or so, then just whip it out when you've got those unexpected relatives that pop round at Christmas time...and you can feel all smug with yourself when they think your a baking god/ess. (Your welcome.)


There's always that big debate surrounding cookies as to whether they should be completely chewy or have a slight crunch. Personally I like them chewy and that's where the golden syrup steps in. 


Ingredients (makes 24-25):

300g butter
300g soft light brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 orange
450g self raising flour
90g maltesers
200g milk chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Line several large baking tray with baking paper. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat together until pale and creamy. Next whisk in the golden syrup and add the zest of an orange and the juice of half the orange. Add 225g of the flour and mix altogether. 

Cut every malteser in half and chop the chocolate into large chunks. Then pour all the halved maltesers into the cookie dough mixture along with half of the chocolate chunks and the remaining flour. Beat until all just combined and then, with your hands, roll small pieces into smooth balls to get 24-25 altogether. Place well spaced apart on your prepared baking trays. Then push the rest of the chocolate chunks you reserved into the cookie balls and press to flatten down. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, you may have to do this in batches. 

Once cooked, leave on the baking trays to cool for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Parisian Apple Tart

This is autumnal baking at it's best and is inspired by one of my most favorite places on earth - Paris! Even though I've never properly been (except for Disneyland Paris which doesn't really count does it?!)  Anyway, there is something just so mystically enticing about the streets of Paris, mainly for the fact that I adore the countless French patisserie's on every street corner (which has got to be up there as the best type of shop ever invented!!) What's not to love about a French patisserie specializing in all things sweet?! 

I could just picture an apple tart like this one sitting in the front window to pull Parisians inside. (Not being cocky or anything about how good mine looks or anything! ppffftt) 

This apple tart is best served warm with a dollop of whipped cream or perhaps a scoop of vanilla ice cream...the classics. NOT custard, as I don't like it, remember? If you don't happen to eat it all in one go, which is hard to imagine I know... then it will taste equally good the next day. Just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and bam it's ready to eat! 

My Parisian apple tart has a thin, sweet shortcrust pastry case (just as it should be) with a thin layer of sponge - which should traditionally be frangipane, but honestly I don't like that because just almonds are a no no. So I have to improvise with my trusty vanilla extract. However, if your thinking what the heck is she doing, then just use the god damn almond extract if you really want to. Then comes the star of the show...apples! I have decided that this works best with just your regular eating apple, as it's much less sour and tart, therefore less sugar is needed. Then to top it off, we have a caramel glaze which adds more sticky sweetness and gives an attractive shine to the apples. 

It is a makes a great pudding after a Sunday dinner!


Ingredients:

For the pastry
200g plain flour
100g unsalted butter, cold
1 heaped tbsp of caster sugar
cold water

For the filling
75g self raising flour
75g margarine
75g caster sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
1 egg
1/2 tbsp of vanilla extract or almond if you prefer
4 dessert apples
1 lemon- juiced

For the caramel glaze
35g demerara sugar
35g salted butter

Method


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas mark 6. To make your pastry in a food processor, cut your butter into cubes and add to the flour, pulse until you have fine breadcrumbs. Next, spoon in the sugar and pulse briefly, then add your water, a tablespoon full at a time so that you can stop when you notice that it has started to clump together. Bind with your hands until it comes to a mass and chill for 10 minutes to relax.

Roll out your pastry to a thickness where it is just big enough to line the base and sides or your tart tin. (I used a 10 inch tart tin.) Don't trim the edges of your pastry, instead leave it overhanging and this will avoid shrinkage. Dock the base with a fork and then cover with foil or baking parchment and fill with baking beans or rice. Blind bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then remove the foil/paper and baking beans and bake for a further 10 mins or until it is dry and a very pale golden colour.

Meanwhile, to make the cake mixture, mix the self raising flour, margarine, caster sugar, egg and vanilla or almond extract in a bowl and cream to a smooth batter. 

Next prepare the apples. Wash, peel, core and chop the apples into fairly thin sliced segments. Put these into a bowl as go along with the lemon juice covering them to prevent browning. 

Once the pastry has blind baked, adjust the temperature of your oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas mark 4. Trim the overhanging edges so you get a nice, neat finish and pour the cake batter over the base, spreading out evenly. Next, arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern, starting from the centre and then working your way out to the edge. You may have to overlap them slightly, so that they completely cover the cake batter.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of caster sugar over the apple slices and then bake the tart in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or so that the apple has gained a bit of browning and the cake is cooked when a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. 

When the tart has just been removed from the oven you can make the sticky glaze. Heat the sugar and butter until the granules are completely dissolved over a low heat in a small saucepan. Allow the sugar and butter to boil once the sugar has dissolved which will just begin to thicken it slightly. Take it off the heat and immediately brush all over the apples. Then leave to cool slightly before serving.  
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Saturday, 8 November 2014

Edd Kimber's Custard Creams

I seem to be going down a nostalgic baking route just lately, and so making custard creams is no exception. There is something just so simple but yet totally satisfyingly good about these classic biscuits. I can always remember that at Christmas time, when I was little,  my mum would always buy that certain biscuit selection box named 'Family Circle'... I know cringe right - do you remember that certain box too? 

Filled with the definitive's such as the bourbon cream, happy faces, milk chocolate digestive, jam sandwich creams and not forgetting the choc chip cookie! 


I'm with Edd here, for the simple fact that he explains to us (on his blog), how homemade custard creams will never replicate the same texture as shop-bought ones. The difference being that commercial cookies rarely use butter. But stuff with butter always tastes better right?! So that's why we stick with the butter (hand in hand), but they still taste pretty damn good, for the better even!

I would also just like to give you a few hinters on how I found Edd's recipe. 

Firstly, when Edd states 'if the butter is very cold you may need to bring it together in mass by hand' I most certainly needed to. When you pour out what looks like a heap of breadcrumbs onto your worktop, you really just need to stick at it and work those bingo wings (if you have any that is?) until, after what feels like watching paint dry...it FINALLY comes together. Yesss! 


Next thing, buttercream filling. It's almost not a buttercream because it's that flippin' stiff. Edd mentions in an edit- 'you may want to add a little milk to loosen it slightly'. Let me tell you...you most definitely will need to as it's that hard to spread. I did go to the effort of putting it into a piping bag too, however I later decided that it just wasn't worth it trying to squeeze it out. So instead I just used a palette knife to spread the filling onto the biscuit. But heck, does it taste good! Ahh the cooks's perks of getting your fingers covered in the stuff as you precariously un-fill the piping bag.

 

Word of warning! The biscuits are very delicate to handle and can easily snap into two (not saying that some of mine did) shhh!! So just have the odd spare waiting if you do, it's handy if you manage to cut out an odd number of biscuits, as don't forget you technically need two to make one, (if that makes any sense?) 


Custard Creams


Ingredients (makes about 15 finished biscuits with a 4cm round cutter):

225g plain flour
50g custard powder
30g icing sugar
175g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:

50g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp custard powder
Edit: You may need a little milk

Head over to Edd Kimber's blog here for the method.



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