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.