I was set a challenge this weekend. My good friend Muss was inspired by the film Grease and requested an 'Eskimo Pie' for our Saturday girls night in dessert. I had never heard of Eskimo pie before and so I had to clarify what she was expecting. The answer: Ice cream completely encased in shortcrust pastry - a bit like a pastry bomb. After a bit of head scratching and internet surfing I realised it could be done but would be more a case of assemblage than baking!
The first thing I had to do was blind bake a shortcrust pastry case using baking beads to weigh down the pie shell. I also baked a flat pastry top on a baking sheet with another baking sheet weighing it down to use as a lid. When this had cooled I softened some vanilla ice cream and mixed through some fresh raspberries. Working fast so the ice cream didn't melt, I spooned it into the pastry case and swirled through melted milk chocolate (Dairy Milk of course). The lid was then placed on top and the whole thing placed back in the baking tin to protect it in the freezer. A few wraps of cling film and a final layer of foil protected the pastry from freezer burn. 4 hours in the freezer and it was ready to transport to Catford (with the help of some ice packs)
At the end of dinner we removed the pie from the freezer and the pan and left it on a plate for 20 minutes to allow the pastry to thaw slightly. I'd like to say at this point we ignored the pie and carried on having a raucous time but in all honesty we sat with the pie in the middle of the table, staring and salivating for 20 minutes... When the time was up I said a silent prayer and attempted to cut a slice. To my surprise it actually held together quite well. The pastry was nicely thin so it had thawed well and the flavour combination meant it was a bit like eating a raspberry shortcake dessert. The verdict: well, I'm a little ashamed to say the four of us ate the whole pie which probably says it all...
I was tasked with making a birthday cake for my office colleague and friend Neal this weekend. Now Neal is not fussy when it comes to cakes, doughnuts, pastries etc - simply put he eats anything. Despite this I thought quite hard about what I was going to bake because I wanted to be a very manly cake, fondant wasn't coming near this project!
A couple of years back my bestie Laura made our gang a cake from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook - Brooklyn Blackout cake. The history behind this cake is that is was originally made by a local bakery in Brooklyn during the war years when they regularly practised blackouts. I remember when Laura made this cake i was hesitant as heavy chocolate cake really is not my kind of cake but it was light and absolutely delicious. The cake was perfect for Neal as the dark frosting and crumbled cake topping make it look very blokey.
The secret behind this cake is that it actually does not contain any chocolate! I know, hard to believe but the flavour and colour comes from cocoa powder. The incredibly shiny filling and frosting is eggless chocolate custard. This is made from a combination of boiled sugar, cornflour and cocoa powder with a splash of vanilla and some butter mixed in. I had never made it so was slightly nervous of the process but it came out perfect with a super high gloss shine.
The recipe did not give the cake quite the height I was after, but the quantities of mixture in the recipe were never going to produce a 4 inch high cake. Next time I would add half the quantities again to produce a taller cake. Conversely the eggless chocolate custard element of the recipe gave me double what I required so I had way too much leftover!
Neal was very pleased with his bloke cake and general feedback from the office was overwhelmingly positive. Alison even had a second slice... Happy birthday Neal!
Remember a few weeks back Chris made me a chocolate orange cheesecake? I still haven't worked out what he was buttering me up for but another cheesecake arrived which had peaked my suspicion further but for now let's focus on the food...
Upon presentation I immediately noticed this cheesecake was paler. Last time Chris used milk and dark chocolate orange but I guessed this time it was all milk. I was correct; a combination of melted Terry's chocolate orange and orange Aero with mascarpone and cream cheese had been combined on a digestive biscuit base. The effect was subtler, less rich, more of a mousse topping compared to the truffle like topping previously. We decided next time a combination of the two would be good, adding a small amount of dark chocolate to the mix to give the taste more depth.
I still don't know what he's after/done wrong/preparing me for but I'm happy to live in blissful ignorance with my cheesecakes...
I will be making these tonight and popping them in the freezer with my fingers crossed for a sunny weekend! If your little one is having a hard time teething Nelsons, the company i work for in daylight hours, make Teetha granules and gel which you can buy from the supermarket to help calm and soothe teething tots. Find out more at www.teetha.co.uk
My closest friends will tell you there are a few things which really bug me. There now only being 4 members of the band 5ive, Sky Sports News and Daniel Radcliffe are up there, but when it comes to a rant there is one subject which beats them all - chocolate bombes.
I am very specific about what a chocolate bombe should be and variations on the classic bombe don't sit too kindly with me. A chocolate bombe should have a core of rich chocolate sauce wrapped in a layer of cold vanilla ice cream. The whole thing should be encased in a thin, glossy chocolate shell which should crack nicely when tapped with your spoon. This is the pudding of my childhood I always ordered when we went to a restaurant called Pizza Piazza in Farnham, may it RIP.
Nothing winds me up more than a dessert masquerading as a bombe or restaurants deciding to mess with the classic vanilla and chocolate combination. I once had the displeasure of being served a mint bombe (yes, you read right, a mint bombe) which to the naked eye looked like a perfectly acceptable bombe until the first bite revealed mint ice cream. This plagued me everytime I visited this establishment as they clearly had not marked up which bombes were which in their freezer.
I also regularly question the need for triple chocolate bombs (chocolate core, chocolate ice cream and chocolate shell) Where is the contrasting taste? Why not just order chocolate ice cream with a flake and be done with it.
I hesitantly ordered the chocolate bomb in my local Italian restaurant a few weeks ago. It looked promising when it arrived and I could cope with the dusting of cocoa and crushed hazelnuts on top as they were not interfering with the structure of the bomb itself but I struggled with the interior. Instead if ice cream it was a semifreddo which is half ice cream, half whipped cream so it is only semi frozen. It was passable as a bombe. Just.
So, imagine my horror when last night I was told about a restaurant serving a chocolate bombe which isn't a sphere, involves no ice cream and includes sponge...
My friend Alex sampled this dessert and claimed it was delicious. It clearly started life as a dome shape which they cut into and served as a slice. This in my eyes makes it a cake not a bombe but we'll come back to that later. The base was a vanilla sponge which was piled high with a cold chocolate cream which may be a semifreddo (unconfirmed) the top appears to be dusted with cocoa powder.
Whilst i recognise they have stuck to the chocolate vanilla combination rule I have found several major flaws in this bombe. Firstly, a bombw should be presented as a whole bomb not in a slice. This completely defeats the point. Secondly, sponge in a bombe... one word. No. Thirdly, dusted cocoa powder is a very poor substitute to a poured, crackable chocolate shell.
I have no doubt this dessert tasted delicious, however, I would accuse the establishment of false advertising over the bombe description.
So there you have it, possibly my most passionate blog post. Think twice before you order a bombe.
Sorry for the slack update on the butterscotch tart but it was probably my least favourite dessert ever (excluding anything banana flavoured) so i have not been in a hurry to report my findings. However, feedback reveals it tasted exactly how it is supposed to taste, so i guess it was a success. In fact everyone cleared their plates... beyond me as to why. Apparently it has something to do with school dinners. As i was always a packed lunch child his could explain the mystery.
So to recap the pastry case was a bit of a disaster because the sides shrunk down and i did slightly over bake it so it was more like a biscuit than pastry - but no soggy bottom so Mary should be proud.
I then heated up butter and milk and when it was boiling added soft brown sugar and a little flour. After a severe beating and much head scratching i allowed it to cool then spread over the pasty case and refrigerated.
A little gold shimmer just before serving finished it off along with the obligatory birthday candle. After Chris the kiddies had a turn to blow out the candle and I served with whipped cream (although i was informed custard would have been more appropriate and may have helped warm up the rather cold butterscotch) Suffice to say i will not be rushing to make this tart again!
A few weeks back you may have read my post featuring the new craze taking the US by storm... cake cups. I decided to have a go at them myself for a friend's birthday using leftover lemon cake, vanilla buttercream icing, fresh raspberries and raspberry jam.
Funnily enough i didn't have any spare whiskey glasses hanging about so, being the classy gal I am, I decided to use plastic wine glasses. I crumbled the sponge and added a layer to the bottom of the glass then added a layer of raspberry jam followed by a layer of buttercream and some fresh raspberries.
I then sprinkled another layer of crumbled cake on top and finished it with a fresh raspberry and some grated dark chocolate.
The result looked a lot better than i expected and the layers looked very appealing.
The novelty of the wine cups was very well received by the tasters (my trusty work colleagues!) and the general feedback was the ratio of filling to sponge was much better than a normal muffin/cupcake where you struggle to get cake and filling every bite. They were also a big hit with Eloise who got involved and made her own version which looked slightly different to mine but just as fun. The jury is still out over the cake/dessert classification...
This evening was all about baking butterscotch tart for my husband's birthday meal tomorrow. I make cakes so pastry is not my thing. I did what any good wife would do in this situation and bought ready made pastry from the supermarket! I did roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry myself to line my new tart tin...
As recommended I popped the pastry case in the freezer for 20 mins, lined it with baking paper and baking beads then blind baked for 15 mins.
And this happened... Shrunk pastry. Why!!! I don't understand why it has slid down the pan side and given me this weird, uneven edge. Clearly I am going to say I'm going for the rustic look but I'd like to know why this happened for future tarts. Someone is probably tutting as they read this muttering & 'this wouldn't have happened if you'd made your own pastry'...
The butterscotch is now cooling after I completely winged it over the hob (I can't stand the stuff so have no idea how to make it and for the first time in the history of man the internet appears to only have 3 recipes for butterscotch tart and each one is different. So i went for the one with the least ingredients) I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow!
Pancake day! Not usually a big deal in our household but now we have a 2 year old it seemed a great time to start a tradition.
Possibly I was a little overenthusiastic allowing Eloise free reign during the mixing process... Despite the chaos they taste good and after I had spent an hour cleaning the kitchen post apocalypse I made savoury pancakes for the grown ups (me and Chris) filled with peppers, onions, ham and cheese. Topped with fresh tomato and cheese and baked in the oven they were delish.
Sorry for the break in blog posts. I took my daughter to Spain on holiday and whilst there got to enjoy one of my favourite Spanish customs - Churros!
Churros are Spanish doughnuts which are fried until they become crunchy. They are long tube like shapes which can be straight, curled or twisted. They are traditionally served with super thick hot chocolate for dunking or sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle.
In Spanish markets churros are often sold by street vendors, who fry them freshly and sell them hot covered in sugar. For 1 euro you get a huge bag full of greasy, hot, sugary doughnutty goodness. They always reminds me of the doughnut sellers on Brighton pier but half the price for twice as many!
Personally I only like churros hot as they are very chewy once they cool down. Eloise didn't seem to mind what temperature they were and scoffed most of our bag.
Mum. Wife. Artist. Baker.