Saturday, 11 August 2012

Peanut & Salted Caramel Macarons, & tips for the perfect macaron

Hello lovers. Did you miss me? I've been on a mini-hiatus [read: on a bit of a fitness kick hence no baking] but I'm back now! I feel rather like how that Adam fella on Man Vs Food must feel: with so much food and baking to get through, it does rather take a toll on a healthy lifestyle.

But look at these babies! Macarons. Sigh. These are macarons for people who don't like macarons. Those people who go "Oh I just don't get the fuss about macarons, they're too sweet and they don't taste of anything.' Hush your sceptical mouths.

Half-almond-half-peanut shells sandwiched together with decadent salted caramel sauce. It's all salty-sweet and vaguely reminiscent of peanut brittle. Whether you're bribing tutors for better marks [Hi Margot], trying to impress on dates or you simply fancy spending an afternoon leisurely baking, these are the macarons for you. Force them upon the macaron-averse and feel smug when they look at you in awe. And at around 90 cals a pop, even the most health-conscious can indulge. Recipe and tips after the break.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cardamom, fig & vanilla seeded muffins

Hello there. Well, I've had a bit of a telling off recently from my friends [Hi Sophie] for not updating in a while. To that I say - sorry baby, I'm all vaginas all the time now. Aka - I'm on obstetrics & gynaecology, possibly the most time consuming AND gross rotation ever.

Regardless of how little time I have, there is always time to cook and eat, but photographing and blogging said food gets pushed to the back of the queue.

These little babies were dreamt up while I tried not to faint during a vaginal hysterectomy [don't ask], and they came out really well! Now that I'm looking back at them, the orange glaze does look a bit...suspicious, but if anyone says anything about it, just give them a horrified look. These are MUFFINS for heaven's sake, get your mind out of the gutter. Filthy.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

White chocolate, vanilla and raspberry tart

I'm on a bit of a pastry binge. Or, I should say, I was. This tart was in fact made weeks ago, before I was flung back into the eddies of student life, but its deliciousness lives on!

Excuse the dramatics, but it is indeed a lovely, lovely tart. Made even lovelier by the new vanilla bean paste I bought - all the wonders of real vanilla pods, but in a jar! It's the best thing since sliced bread, I swear. I have been going a little overboard with it though, I'm not sure porridge really benefits from it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Butternut squash & sage arancini

Arancini. Aranciiiniii. Say it with me, in a terrible Italian accent. Tiny risotto balls, named arancini because they look like little oranges [arancia is orange in Italian].

My first and only experience of these babies is eating them sitting outside the Colosseum, all lit up at night, and absence has made the heart grow fonder. After three years, they're back in my life and I have no idea what took me so long to make them. Take a tub of leftover cold risotto, a ball of mozzarella, and high levels of procrastination and you have yourself a snack fit for a king.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chocolate & hazelnut coffee eclairs

I bought myself a little treat the other day - Whittard's hazelnut coffee. I'm an absolute coffee fiend - although I don't drink it black and unsweetened, oh no no. I like my milky and flavoured - vanilla, irish cream, and best of all -hazelnut. And, not content with simply drinking my coffee, I thought - why not bake with it? And since I had cream left over.....voila! Chocolate and hazelnut coffee eclairs.

I love working with choux pastry, it's so quick to whip up - though I do think these could be improved by poking a few holes in them and popping back in the oven to dry out. But look! So cute! Tiny pastries are always v impressive.

This makes about 8 mini eclairs - perfect if you've got dribs and drabs of bits left over.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Chocolate whoopie pies

Whoopie pies. Whoopie. Pies. We meet again, under a different disguise maybe, but still. Whoopie pies.

You may have been able to tell from the gist of that, but I don't really like whoopie pies. There, I've said it! They look a bit like macarons but aren't as lovely and fancy. They're pretty much the same constituents as cupcakes but all the cake open to the air makes them a bit dry I think, and not as deportable [I just noticed this. Deportable? Thanks, autocorrect. Decoratable. Maybe it's picking up on my subconscious need to deport them out of my life]. Although, that being said, my Welsh flatmate does keep referring to them as "whoopsies" which is actually pretty adorable.

This is a recipe from Dan Lepard's book, Short and Sweet, which I bought myself as a post-Christmas treat, and I'm only just getting around to cooking out of it now. My innate distrust of whoopie pies has absolutely no bearing on the book, which is beautiful and filled with technical explanations of things but not in a way that crowds the recipes or is overly complicated [I'm looking at you, Heston]. In fact, I made a delicious soda bread from it just yesterday, that I ate for dinner with butter and rhubarb jam. It was delicious! [So delicious it's worth saying twice] And achievable with just basic pantry items, which is always a massive win.

The marshmallow filling was a bit of a revelation though. After the pumpkin whoopie pie incident, I was convinced I was going to have to trek out and buy Marshmallow Fluff but no! No, Dan Lepard assured me. All I needed was a bag of marshmallows, milk and butter. That, I can do. There is very little that can match the joy of watching marshmallows melt. I wish I could have used my blowtorch.

The glaze was well received as well, and when I decided to try these again the next day, I microwaved one for a little while and the glaze turned all runny and fudge and the cake went soft again and the marshmallows went...well, marshmallowy.

So, in conclusion: whoopie pies = meh. Marshmallow filling = delightful. Whoopie pie + microwave = ingenious. Bloody ingenious.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Pumpkin whoopie pies

These were a mixed success. Mixed because, although all my friends liked them, and they certainly went down a treat at the library, I was undecided. Maybe they were a little too spiced? Or maybe that jar of Marshmallow Fluff that I disregarded in the recipe as being too faffy was just faffy enough.

Aesthetically, they were MASSIVE, and now that I've bought a replacement large round tip, I'll probably pipe them next time I make whoopee pies.

That being said, I do enjoy a cinnamon spiced cake paired with a cream cheese frosting, and the phrase 'whoopie pie' makes me giggle, so who knows, maybe next time I buy a can of pumpkin these will make a reappearance.

In other news, I had my exam today! And it went....okay, I think. You never do know. What I do know, is that I don't have to spend all my time learning about ridiculously rare skin conditions and instead can get onto the enjoyable task of making presents and testing out recipes from my new cookbooks! [Yes okay maybe I bought some more during my revision breaks. And crumpet rings. And more cookie cutters. And an ice cream scoop.]

Recipe after the break.