Friday, 29 January 2016

Panettone Bread Puddings

As I continue to work my way through the many festive treats I still have left over I find myself having to become more and more creative in ways to use them up. Here I've taken a big old panetonne and turned what's left into little individual bread puddings. With the stodge level at maximim, these are entirely satisfying both in their ingestion and creation. Proper mud pie, hands dirty action all around!

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: 40-45 Mins
450g Panettone
250g Sultanas
75g Light Muscovado Sugar
250ml Milk
1 Large Egg (Beaten)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Orange Extract
1tsp Lemon Extract
50g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
A sprinkling of Demerara Sugar

Now the fun begins. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and grease a 12 hole muffin tray. In a large mixing bowl break up the panettone. You don't want it as crumbs, chunky spongey nuggets is what you are after. Add the sultanas, muscovado sugar, milk, egg and extracts then get your hands in and smush all together to combine. Tip in the melted butter and mix together with a wooden spoon, then divide equally between your greased muffin cups. If there is any of the mixture left in the bottom of the bowl evenly top each filled cup. Sprinkle over a little demerara then bake in the centre of a preheated oven for around 40-45 minutes, until risen slightly and golden brown. When you are happy the puddings are baked remove from the oven and leave in the tray for around 30 mins, until the tray is cool enough to handle. Once cool run a flat bladed knife around each cup and gently coax the puddings out onto a wire rack.

These naughty little beauties can either be enjoyed warm or cold. The choice is yours!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Apple Cakes with Cinnamon Buttercream and Brandied Dates

These apple cakes are naughty little winter treats and the perfect fortification for when the weather takes a turn for the chilly. The cakes themselves are relatively simple fayre (although by no means anything less than delicious), but the real star is the brandied date that rests on top of the slightly spiced icing. I've labelled them brandied as they are lightly candied in maple syrup and finished with a dash of flambe'd brandy. That's right you heard me correctly, bring on the flambe!!!!

Prep time: 30 Mins
Baking time 30 Mins (Plus a few minutes to brandy the dates)
For the dates
6 Fat Medjool Dates (Halved and stoned)
2tbsp Maple Syrup
1tbsp Brandy

For the cakes
200g Plain Flour
185g Light Muscovado Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
175ml Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs (Beaten)
2 Large Dessert Apples

For the buttercream
150g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
300g Icing Sugar
1tsp Ground Cinnamon

Let us start with the dates. Add the date halves to a small pan over a medium heat along with the maple syrup. Stir very gently until the syrup starts to loosen then add the brandy. Hold a lighter to the vapor of the brandy which will ignite a very gentle flame. Leave the flame to burn away, gently shaking the pan, then give the dates a final soft stir before removing each one onto a sheet of baking paper. Leave to cool and you are then free to start the cakes.

For the cakes preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and well grease a 12 cup muffin tray. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg to a large bowl and mix together. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the oil and beaten eggs. Vigorously mix together until smooth and consistent, then set to one side whilst you prepare the apples.

Peel, core and quarter the apples, then slice thinly. Gently fold the apples through the cake batter, take care not to break up the apples (although don't fret if this happens to one or two!). Evenly spoon the coated apples into you prepared muffin cups, then top evenly with any excess mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 30 minutes, until risen and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into one of the cakes. When you are happy the cakes are baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes in the tray. Run a flat bladed knife around the edge of each muffin cup, carefully turn your cakes out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cakes are cool you can prepare the buttercream, which is sooooo easy. Cream together the butter and icing sugar, along with the cinnamon until smooth and silky. You can add a dash more cinnamon if you want the icing a bit more pokey but take care not to overdo it! Spread the buttercream over each cake and top with a brandied date. And there you have it, job done!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Cocoa Butter Cookies

Before you ask, no I have not attempted to make cookies from the cocoa butter creams one finds in the Body Shop (Even though they do smell DELICIOUS). The cocoa butter I have used in this recipe is entirely edible and available online or from specialist retailers. I picked mine up from my good friends at Rococo…

Pale in colour, hard and quite brittle in texture it’s a rather unusual ingredient, but when used instead of butter provides a lovely soft and rounded cocoa flavour which works beautifully in both sweet and savoury dishes.

With this recipe I’ve kept things simple with some chocolate chip cookies, which always go down a treat with friends and family. You’ll get about 18 out of the quantity of mixture and if you have big enough baking trays can do them in two batches of nine. You’ll have to chill the mixture prior to baking but that means you can make the dough well in advance, even the night before baking. Huzzah!

Prep time: 20 Mins (Plus an hour or two chilling time)
Baking time: 15-17 Mins (Depending on size)
75g Cocoa Butter
35g Unsalted Butter
100g Light Muscovado Sugar
75g Caster Sugar
150g Plain Flour
1/2tsp Baking Powder
A pinch of Salt
1 Large Egg (Beaten)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
300g Dark Chocolate Chips

To the kitchen once more! Gently melt together the cocoa butter and unsalted butter (be careful if doing this in a microwave), then set to one side to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl mix together the sugars, flour, baking powder and salt until no lumps remain, then make a well in the middle. Pour in the melted butters, egg and vanilla extract, then mix vigorously until smooth and glossy. Finally, fold through the chocolate chips.

Lay out a double of layer of clingfilm and blob the sticky dough along the centre line. Wrap up into a long sausage, secure at either end then pop in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.

Once you are ready to baking, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two large, flat baking trays with baking paper. Take the firm dough from the fridge, slice off fat disks (About 2cm thick) with a sharp knife and place evenly spaced apart on your prepared trays. As I mentioned above you should get around 18 from the quantity of mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 15 minutes, until the cookies have spread and are a light golden brown, then remove from the oven. When you are happy the cookies are baked carefully slide the paper from the trays (with the cookies still on) and leave to cool for about 20-30 minutes. When the cookies have had a chance to firm up, peel from the paper and return to the wire rack until you are ready to devour. All done!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Tiffin Truffles

As much as we all indulge over the festive period there always seems to be a few things left over that need using up, both sweet and savoury. Here I've made use of some leftover chocolate biscuits and transformed them into little tiffin truffles, which are DELICIOUS and oh so very moreish! I've finished them with a generous drizzle of dark chocolate, but white works just as well if you prefer and if you had any nuts, marshmallows, etc left over too feel free to give them a rough chop and throw them in!

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time Chilling time: 120 Mins
250g Chocolate Biscuits
2tbsp Cocoa Powder
85g Unsalted Butter
65g Golden Syrup
100g Dark Chocolate (Melted)

Let us begin. In a large, sturdy mixing bowl pulverise the chocolate biscuits as finely as you can, then mix through the cocoa powder. Place a medium sized saucepan on a low heat, add the butter and golden syrup and let them slowly melt together. Once melted tip in the biscuits and mix for 30 seconds still on the lowest heat. Turn the heat off, mix again briefly, then it's time to decant to moulds. I use a 20 cup cake pop mould but if you have proper truffle moulds or little petit four moulds you can use those instead. Spoon the mixture into your moulds, then place in the fridge for 90 minutes to set. As I mentioned I end up with around 20 from the mixture but it doesn't matter if you have a few more or less. It all depends on your moulds!

Once set ease out of the moulds and drizzle with melted chocolate. Return to the fridge to set and they are ready. Clever you!