Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mint Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (23/100)


These are cute, crumbly, cookies, with a little pools of ganache in their centres. A nice simple bake, that can be thrown together quickly and easily.


To make them even easier, the thumbprint and ganache could be omitted - one of my cookies disintigrated in transfer from baking sheet to wire rack, so I consumed the evidence, and can confirm the plain cookie was rather pleasant.


The ganache would be my only criticism of these cookies - it involves 1.5 tablespoons of cream being heated to boiling. This is an annoying quantity of cream. (A peek ahead to next week involves 2 tablespoons of cream being heated. Humph)


The application of the ganache is fiddly, but satisfying.


Ingredients:
For the cookies
60g dark chocolate
110g unsalted butter, softened
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp peppermint essence
125g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
40g demerara sugar (recipe says 75g, I weighed out 50g, and there was at least 10g leftover)

For the filling
40g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1+1/2 tbsp double cream
1 tsp peppermint essence


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Peanut Butter Cheesecake - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (22/100)


I have to say, I'm not convinced on this recipe - it is a very soft set for a cheesecake, despite using gelatine. (Mrs B found the same thing so I'm pretty sure it's not my ineptitude this time.)


Then we need to talk about the 4 raw egg yolks in the cheese part. Why are they there? What do they do? (Apart from make this cheesecake unsuitable for pregnant women, and make me nervous about serving it to friends?) I think if I'd been planning this more I would have omitted them - they don't add anything, and I doubt anyone would notice their absence.


Then of course there is the enormous volume of peanut praline (more than twice what was needed, even with my generous application.)


The cheesecake is not unpleasant, and I love it as a concept, but I'm not sure it works in practice. The crunchy peanut butter goes kind of soggy, and the peanuts aren't really crunchy - I think a smooth peanut butter would give a better texture and more even flavour.


I'm afraid I probably won't be repeating this one though, there are better cheesecakes out there!


Ingredients:

For the base:
200g nutty chocolate chip biscuits (I used a packet of hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies)
75g unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake topping:
400g full fat cream cheese
150g caster sugar
4 large egg yolks (see comments above)
6 leaves of gelatine
150g crunchy peanut butter (see comments above)
250ml double cream

For the peanut brittle (makes far more than needed):
100g unsalted roasted peanuts (where sells *un*salted roasted peanuts?? I used salted ones, they worked just fine, and actually tied the whole "peanut butter" thing in better)
200g caster sugar
50ml water


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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Blueberry and Amaretti Trifle Cupcakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (21/100)


Apart from being unseasonal (blueberry season is not for a wee while yet), these turned out to be an excellent cupcake for this weekend.


I have been to visit Mama and Papa. Papa is a fan of cake in most manifestations, but a blueberry muffin, with a bit of an homage to trifle and with just a hint of almond seems to have gone down well.


Mama and I have to keep counting the cupcakes to deter sudden disappearances.


Fearing the scrambled eggs phenomenon, I undercooked my custard initially (it was very liquid, and still had a delightful cornflour mouthfeel *bleurgh*) so reboiled it and it thickened beautifully. A whisk is essential - a spatula or spoon will result in lumps.


I'm not usually a trifle fan - I find it a rather strange experience. Think about it, you soak stale cake in alcohol to try and disguise its staleness, then add squashed fruit, and cover the whole lot in cold custard. I'm sure that is as controversial as the whole scone debate last summer, but if you can't be controversial about food, when can you be?


These cupcakes are good though - the best parts of trifle - but no stale sponge.


Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
210g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (the original recipe only uses vanilla extract, but I felt it needed something to tie the amaretti flavours into the sponge
150g blueberries (I used frozen, as April isn't really blueberry season, unless of course it's strawberries that have turned blue because of the cold #soundofmusicreference... and yes... I just used a hashtag in a blog)
Custard Cream:
330ml whole milk
3 large egg yolks
60g caster sugar
20g plain flour
20g cornflour
150ml double cream

Decoration:
75g blueberries (I omitted these, because, as you might have seen me mention, it is not blueberry season and frozen blueberries would go all smudgy)
50g amaretti biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cheese Straws - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (20/100)



The more astute among you may have noticed the slightly longer break between posts. Due to a combination of illness and busy-ness, Gill and I agreed to have a little "half term" break. And we both know that cheese straws are hardly exactly high level baking, but sometimes they're just one too many things to do!


These were a slight variation on my usual method, which involved sandwiching the cheese between two layers of puff pastry - here the pastry is brushed with an egg wash and the cheese squashed into the top.


The cheese straws look better - because there is the contrast in the twist of the cheesy side and the non-cheesy side, but the cheese feels less distributed in the twists, I felt.


Also, I think I underbaked these - they could have done with being a bit browner and crispier, but they went down well at Home Group!


Ingredients:
250g puff pastry (shop bought! It's okay - even Mary Berry buys hers...)
180g gruyere cheese (I substituted this for mature cheddar), grated
60g parmesan, grated
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (It's not thyme season, I substitued this for 1 tsp dried thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Peanut Brittle (Mixed Nut Brittle) - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (19/100)


Peanut brittle, such a fun throwback to the days when tuck shops could sell refined sugar and nuts. Like Mrs B, I adapted this recipe to make it more than just peanuts - I used a blend of hazelnuts, almonds, salted peanuts and walnut pieces.


The salted peanuts provided a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of the caramel. I had a little trouble getting the caramel evenly out of the pan and over all of the nuts before it started to cool to much and solidified in the pan.


It did ooze about generally, though, so only a few nuts were not "glued" properly, but some of my difficulties might be the varied sizes of my nuts, rather than the more uniform size of all peanuts.


It's jolly more-ish, I must say.


Peanut Brittle
250g nuts - a blend of your choice!
300g granulated sugar
400ml water

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Peanut Butter Granola Bars - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (18/100)


Well, these are rather nice. They taste like an American peanut butter candy, but better. You can pretend they are healthy because of the nuts, seeds and dried fruit.


They are so more-ish, that in the time it has taken to write this post I have already eaten three. I had to hide them from myself or I would have devoured more.


I certainly hope to make these again, but will probably add a touch more peanut butter to act as a slightly firmer binding.


I was troubled by a little disintegration, but not to the degree that Gill described.


I made a couple of substitutions in the basic granola mix - I replaced the pecans with walnuts, and used a seed mix rather than just pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I also replaced the raisins with a mix of cranberries, sultanas, chopped dates and chopped dried apricots.


Ingredients:
60g unsalted butter
60ml honey
480g porridge oats
80g flaked almonds
80g pecan nuts, chopped
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
160g raisins
100g crunchy peanut butter
125ml golden syrup
70g soft light brown sugar

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Peach Cobbler - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (17/100)


I could tell you that I made 2/3 of this recipe because a cobbler that serves 6 to 8 is just too big for three adults (even if those three adults are of the hungry variety.)


Or I could say that I just didn't have a big enough dish for 3 cans of peaches. I could even tell you that portion control is one of the best ways to promote a healthy diet.


Or I could come clean and tell you that my stock-taking skills are dire and what I believed was a can of peaches was in fact a can of mangoes. I briefly contemplated a peach and mango cobbler, but for all of the above reasons, I went for 2/3s of the recipe!


A cobbler recipe was the first time I ever came across the American use of the word, "biscuit." The recipe instructed the user to use their favourite biscuit recipe to top the cobbler. Whilst I briefly contemplated a triple chocolate chip biscuit, actually, what is meant is a tender, buttery dough, that slightly resembles a scone, but is in fact far superior. (Don't look so surprised, I've already expressed my distate for the scone, here.)


Recipes like this do somewhat make me wish I lived the American Dream on a vast homestead, completely self-sufficient, and canning jar after jar of pickles (we will gloss over the fact that I made pickles two years ago to deal with a surfeit of cucumbers, and the jars are still in the pantry waiting to be consumed.)


Ingredients:
For the filling:
3 x 400g tins of sliced peaches (in juice)
50g soft light brown sugar (I reduced this by 10g and didn't miss it, I wonder if it is needed at all)
20g caster sugar (I reduced this by 10g and didn't miss it, I wonder if it is needed at all)]
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornflour (I substituted this for arrowroot)

For the topping:
170g plain flour
60g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp for sprinkling
50g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g cold, unsalted butter, cubed
60ml boiling water
1 tsp mixed spice

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