Monday, 2 December 2013

Never Fail Biscotti - My Christmas gift to you....

Never Fail Biscotti


Christmas Spice with cranberry, orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate


So, this is my Christmas gift to you all, my biscotti recipe, it truly is a never fail recipe and is so versatile & delicious. It's also dairy free.

The word biscotti originates from medieval Latin and translates as twice baked, which is exactly what this is, a twice baked, hard, crunchy biscuit. Perfect for dunking in your coffee after a meal or in your hot chocolate!

It's also an excellent gift as it last so well, you can make it way in advance, pop it in a bag (ensuring it's airtight) tie it with a bow and Ta-Dah! Instant pressie!

It’s highly versatile flavour wise, and the sky is the limit with flavour combinations. You'll see a few of my favourite flavours scattered through this post....

So, go on.....Bake It!!!!



Cinnamon Sugar, half dunked in milk chocolate





Ingredients
· 250g plain flour
· 250g caster sugar
· 1 ½ tsp baking powder
· 3 eggs
· Up to 375g of filling of your choice, nuts, choc chips, dried fruit, spices etc, chop the dried fruit quite finely.
· Zest 1 lemon (optional depending on your filling ingredients)
· Caster sugar for sprinkling

Cashew & Chocolate

Method
Whisk eggs and sugar together till a little frothy

Add flour & baking powder & mix, finally add nuts etc and stir until combined.

Now, it is a very wet mix but trust me here, line 2 trays with parchment and lay 2 thick sausages of mixture on both trays – the easiest way to do it is to scoop the mixture from the bowl with wet hands.....

Sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake at 180c for 25-30 mins till golden brown.

Remove from oven, slice into 1-1.5cms slices, lay the slices on their sides and put back in oven for 10-12min.

Remove from the oven, and trnasfer to a cooling rack, the biscotti will harden up as it cools.

The biscotti will keep well in an airtight container/tin/box/bag for up to 4 weeks, fruit ones slightly shorter.

 Enjoy!


Pistachio, cashew, cherry





Sunday, 1 December 2013

Chewy Coconut Peanut Butter Slices





If you were to ask me my favourite flavours up there in the top 5 would be coconut & peanut butter, so as you can imagine I LOVE this recipe!
These are delicious, chewy, nutty moreish slices of delight! And believe me, if you are a peanut fan like me, you’ll love them!

The original recipe came from the book ‘Simple Slices’ by the Australian Woman’s Weekly which I picked up at the airport on the way home from holiday in Gozo. I adapted it slightly to use up the ingredients in my cupboard.

Oh, and the best thing about this recipe? No baking and it keeps for up a week......
Chewy Coconut Peanut Butter Slices

Ingredients

·         60g butter, chopped

·         90g honey

·         110g light brown soft sugar

·         95g smooth peanut butter

·         2 tablespoons marmalade (whatever flavour you like, I used pomegranate as that was all I had in the cupboard - also from my hols in Gozo!)

·         90g rolled oats

·         50g Rice Crispies

·         35g desiccated coconut (plus extra for sprinkling)

·         75g dried fruit (I used cranberries but any dried fruit will be fine)

·         55g finely chopped glace cherries or pineapple.





Method

·         Line a 23cm square tin with baking parchment

·         Combine the butter, honey, sugar, peanut butter & marmalade in a large saucepan and heat gently till the sugar has dissolved (don’t boil).

·         Once the sugar has melted bring to a boil for 30 seconds or so and remove from heat.

·         Stir in all the remaining ingredients and mix well.

·         Pour into your lined tin and press down firmly till smooth and even.

·         Sprinkle with the remaining desiccated coconut.

·         Refrigerate till firm, slice, serve, enjoy!!!

·         Will keep for at least a week in an airtight container kept in the fridge. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Best Drizzle Cake EVER!!


The Best Ever Drizzle Cake

This has got to be the best drizzle cake EVER! I came across the recipe a while ago at the Really Nice Recipes website and it has never failed me.

The best thing about it, it gets better with age so you can make it well in advance and just forget about it.

I’ve made several versions of it so far and they’ve all been fabulous...

The classic Lemon Drizzle – always a winner

The St Clements Drizzle using the juice & zest of 1 orange, lemon & 1 lime

The Grapefruit Drizzle using the zest & juice of 1 ½ grapefruits lovely and sharp

And finally The Tropical Drizzle, using the zest & juice of 3 limes, a healthy glug of coconut liqueur and a substituting 50g flour or 50g desiccated coconut

The trick to it is to feed the cake with as much syrup as possible and then leave it for a couple of days to infuse/soak up properly.

Its lovely served as a loaf cake which i've done for Afternoon Tea.....
....or can be split and decorated to make something a little grander, I made one for a friend’s birthday with a layer of lemon curd in the middle and covered with fresh cream and a bit more lemon curd.......

.....I also made one for a baby shower covered with fondant and filled with a lemon marscapone cream. All of which were scrumptious!




Anyway, this is one recipe you will not want to lose so put it in your recipe books NOW!!!

Here is the classic Lemon version recipe (taken from www.reallynicerecipes.com )

Ingredients
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 100ml milk
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • For the drizzle:
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • 100ml water
  • 170g caster sugar

  1. Heat oven to 180°c.
  2. Put the eggs, milk and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Thoroughly whisk them together until the mixture becomes well mixed and foamy
  4. Sift in the flour, salt and baking powder and then stir it into the liquid mixture until there are no lumps left.
  5. Stir in the lemon zest. Then heat the butter (either on the hob or in the microwave) until it has completely melted, then pour it in to the batter and stir until it is completely incorporated.
  6. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin, lined with greaseproof paper.
  7. Put the tin into the oven and bake it for 50 minutes.
  8. To test if the cake is done, insert a skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean the cake is ready. When it is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it in its tin.
  9. To make the drizzle, squeeze the lemon juice through a sieve into a heat-proof pouring jug.
  10. Put the water and sugar into a pan over a medium heat. Bring the mixture up to the boil and boil it for 4 minutes.
  11. Pour the sugar mixture into the jug with the lemon juice and mix them together.
  12. Pour as much of the lemon drizzle mixture onto the cake as you can and leave the cake to absorb for 20 minutes. If the cake becomes reluctant to absorb any more liquid, stop pouring.
  13. Carefully remove the cake from the tin (there may be some of the drizzle left, unabsorbed in the bottom of the tin), transfer it to a wire rack and allow it to completely cool to room temperature
  14. When the cake is cold, slice it and serve.

Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Orange & Chocolate Mousse Cake


 
Orange & Chocolate Mousse Cake

This dessert is rich, creamy, light & fluffy all at the same time and sits on a crispy chocolatey base what more could you ask for?!.. delicious!

Firstly – put 5 small sheets of gelatine into a bowl of cold water to soften.

For the base whizz up the following in a food processor -10 digestive biscuits, 25g Demerara sugar and a handful of choc chips.

Then add 50g melted butter, 1 sachet of instant chocolate drink – e.g. Options and mix well.

Press into the bottom of a parchment lined spring form tin, just line the bottom, not the sides.

Put in fridge to chill.

Next, mix together, 200g full fat cream cheese, 230ml double cream, 1 tin condensed milk. Then gradually add the zest & juice of 2 oranges, juice of 1 lemon & 2-3tbs orange water/extract to taste.

Then give the whole lot a blooming good whisk until thickened and fluffy.

Drain the gelatine and put into a saucepan with a small amount of water and gently heat until dissolved.

Whisk into the creamy mousse mixture and then pour onto your chilled base.

Set in the fridge for a few hours.

Decorate however you fancy, I went for fresh cream and chocolate orange decorations (can you spot my mistake in the picture?)

To serve run a warm palette knife around the edge of the tin and then release the spring!

Enjoy!

p.s Keep refrigerated


 

 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Cherry Conserve




I was lucky enough recently to visit a local cherry farm, it was fascinating and inspiring to see such wonders growing on your doorstep, cherries straight from the tree are quite simply out of this world. They were kind enough to send me away with some free ‘samples’, however, there are only so many fresh cherries you can eat so to use up the ‘leftovers’ I made a nice healthy batch of cherry conserve, I’ve labelled it as quick, which it is once you’ve pitted all your cherries – this is rather time consuming, but with some good music in the background the time will whizz by!


Quick Cherry Conserve

1kg pitted and halved fresh cherries

500g jam sugar

1 x cinnamon stick

100ml water

Glug of kirsch or cherry brandy or brandy or some form of booze!!

Put cherries, water & cinnamon in saucepan and simmer till softened, about 15-20mins.

Add sugar & booze, simmer until softly set – to check, drop a little onto a cold plate and give it a little nudge with your finger, if it wrinkles it’s done!

Spoon into clean, dry jars. Keep in fridge once opened.

Enjoy!
Great for pie filling, tart topping, frangipane bases, ice cream topping, Eaton mess making...you get the picture!! I used some of mine in a franginpane tart with more cherries, raspberries & blackcurrants which was rather lovely!




Sunday, 9 June 2013

Brownie Perfection...


Brownie Pefection
 
 
 
For a good while now I have been hunting from the perfect brownie recipe, each time I thought I nearly had it, it escaped and ran away from me, until now!

This recipe is the closest thing you will find to fudge brownie perfection, they are crisp on the outside, dense and fudgy on the inside and an absolute delight!

The base recipe comes from EddKimber who was the winner of the first The Great British Bake Off in 2010; this recipe came from his blog, the only tweaks I’ve made are the size of the tin – I use an 8inch square brownie tin and sometimes of I don’t have enough dark chocolate I’ll use milk chocolate to make up the weight.

The great thing with finding the perfect ‘base’ recipe is that now the flavor additions are endless, but of course they do taste delicious just as they are.

So I’ve made 2 new varieties peanut butter & After Eight (mint thins) both of which are totally scrummy.

So, on with the basics…here is the fudge brownie recipe:

Fudge Brownies

180g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
300g dark chocolate or milk chocolate or a mixture of both!
150g unsalted butter
220g light brown sugar
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.    Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.

2.    Grease an 8inch square tin and line with a strip of parchment leaving about a 2-inch overhang along the long edges to make removing the brownies easier.

3.     Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a medium bowl and set  aside.

4.    Place the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and stir occasionally until the mixture is fully melted.

5.    Take the bowl of the heat and add the eggs and sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth.

6.    Sieve over the flour mixture and gently fold together.

7.    Pour into your prepared tin, giving it a tap on the work surface to get rid of any air bubbles.

8.    Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, you don’t want raw batter. Allow to cool completely before using a sharp knife to cut into squares.

Peanut Butter Brownies
 
 

So now you’ve got your basic brownie know how, why not try some peanut butter brownies by adding 130g crunchy peanut butter at step 4. and melting it together with the butter and choc.

Then when you’ve poured your batter into the tin drizzle 130g of warmed crunchy peanut butter onto the top for the mix and marble gently with the tip of a knife.

Bake as normal and enjoy!

 

After Eight Brownies
 
 

Or, how about super rich and super dark After Eight Mint Brownies? Follow the basic brownie recipe but at step 4. add a couple of drops of peppermint oil/extract to your butter and chocolate mixture.

Then at step 7. Pour on HALF of the mixture into your tin, smooth it out, and then add a layer of After Eight Mints to the top of the mixture, leaving about a 1cm gap from the edge, then pour the rest of the mix on top and smooth out till even, give the tin a tap and the add a few pieces of cut up After Eight mints to the top (I also added some cocoa nibs for extra crunch).

Bake as normal and enjoy!


Salted Caramel Brownies
 
 

These are divine, delicious Salted Caramel Brownies? Follow the basic brownie recipe then at step 7. Pour on HALF of the mixture into your tin, smooth it out, and then add a layer of salted caramel (a good recipe can be found here) to the top of the mixture, leaving about a 1cm gap from the edge, then pour the rest of the mix on top and smooth out till even, give the tin a tap and bake! Ensure you leave these to cool right down otherwise you'll burn yourself on very hot caramel!!!


Ginger & Orange Blossom Brownies
 
 

Chewy & spicy Ginger  and Orange Blossom brownies,follow the basic brownie recipe but at step 4 add 2 1/2 teaspoons of orange blossom water and the zest of a large orange, then at step 7. Pour on HALF of the mixture into your tin, smooth it out, and then add 150 finely choppd crystalised ginger to the top of the mixture, leaving about a 1cm gap from the edge, then pour the rest of the mix on top and smooth out till even, give the tin a tap, sprikle on a few more pieces of chopped ginger and bake!
 
More varieties coming soon.....

 

 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Honey Maple Goodness Bites


Little guilt free (almost) squares of goodness


Ingredients

100g flaked almonds
100g rolled oats
100g seeds of your choice, pumpkin, sunflower, pine nuts etc – I used a mixture.
35g dessicated coconut
70g dark brown sugar
70g honey
70g maple syrup

60g unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

1tsp teaspoon cinnamon
60g rice crispies or puffed wheat or cornflakes
120g dried fruit of your choice  e.g cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apricots.

Spread the almonds, oats, coconut & seeds onto a baking tray lined with parchment and toast in the oven for 8-10mins at 200c until lightly browned and smelling delicious! Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to a large bowl.


While your ingredients are toasting, line an 8-inch square baking tray/tin with parchment paper, let the parchment drape over the sides a little as this makes life a lot easier when removing them from the tin.
In a small saucepan, heat the honey, maple syrup, butter and sugar over a medium heat, allow it to boil until all the sugar is dissolved and a caramel is created, about 5 minutes, WARNING: be very careful as the caramel is VERY HOT!! Do not be tempted to dip your fingers in it!

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.

Pour the caramel over the nut, oat, and coconut mixture, add the dried fruit and cereal and stir until evenly coated.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and spread into an even layer, press down as much as possible. Cover the mixture with a second sheet of parchment and either weigh it down with tins or baking beans. Let stand for about 2 hours. Remove the top piece of parchment. Using the overhanging paper, lift out the square of goodness. Cut into 12 large bars or 24 smaller squares and enjoy!

Eat within a few days, or the squares can be wrapped and frozen.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Blueberry Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars,
www.theresanewfinmysoup.blogspot.co.uk

Monday, 4 March 2013

A KitKat Cake fit for a Queen



There is a long standing joke with a very good friend of mine that has led to her being affectionately being called The Queen, so for her brithday this year I made her a royal kitkat crown....

3 layers of sponge, chocolate & vanilla, soaked with framboise and filled and covered with a fresh raspberry cream topped with fresh raspberries and surrounded by 21, yes, 21 two finger kitkats!

That's a lot of KitKats!


I have to say i was pretty impressed with the outcome!


Ta-dah!!!


And heres the inside....Mmmmm!