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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Christmas Rocky Road Slices Recipe - Nigella Style



Some of you may remember that I over-hauled Nigella's frangipane mince pie recipe a few weeks ago, well I had already made these bad boys and stuck them in the freezer ready for Christmas.  Now they are defrosted and nearly gone I thought I better share the recipe with you.

This recipe is perfect for those with littlies that like to feel they are helping to bake, as there is very little cooking involved - the majority is weighing and mixing :)

As with all my borrowed recipes, this involves a few tweaks to make it personal to me :) Baking isn't about rigid directions, it's about adaption, experimentation and most importantly having fun!

Ingredients


250g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
175g salted butter at room temperature
4 tbl spoons golden syrup
125g amaretti biscuits
75g chocolate cookies
150g hazlenuts
150g glace cherries
125g mini marshmallows

Method


Chop the chocolate into small chunks and place in a pan with the butter and golden syrup.  Gently heat over a medium heat.

Place the biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with either a rolling pin or pestle.  You need a combination of crumbs and different sized chunks - this recipe is all about the different textures within the chocolate.

Repeat the same procedure with the hazlenuts and place in a large bowl with the biscuits and marshmallows

Cut the glace cherries into different sized pieces and add to the nuts, marshmallows and biscuits

Once the chocolate, butter and syrup has fully melted, remove from the heat

Pour the chocolate mix over the biscuits, nuts, marshmallows and cherries.  Using a large spoon, very carefully stir to coat everything in the chocolate mix.

Tip into a large foil tin (either square or rectangular) and spread out with a spoon - try to make the depth as even as possible.

Place in the fridge to firm (about 2 hours)

Once set, take a ruler and measure the tin.  Decide on how large you would like your pieces, and mark with the ruler and a knife.  Cut through gently.

These can either be eaten straight away, or frozen.  If freezing, ensure they are tightly wrapped to prevent freezer burn.  They will take a few hours to defrost, and should be stored in an air tight container for up-to a week.

You can dust with icing sugar, but personally I hate the stuff!

Check the beautiful glass stand and dome that I got for Christmas, perfect for displaying and storing these bad boys in ;)





Banoffee Pie Recipe

Now regular readers will know that I have a gluten free version of this recipe here, but I somehow forgot to share the original recipe, so after a lovely family member requested it, I figured it was time to write it up :)  I whipped one of these up for a family gathering over Christmas, and have fallen in love with it all over again!


Equipment


Food processor with blade attachment - for turning the biscuits into crumbs, you can use a freezer bag and rolling pin, but I prefer this way
20cm spring form tin - you can go larger or even a bit smaller, but ideally it should be spring form as removing the pie from the tin otherwise will be a nightmare
Microwave - for melting the butter
Mixing bowl
Electric whisk - good luck if you decide to whip cream by hand
Pestle - for pressing the biscuits into the tin, clean fingers or the back of a spoon can also be used
Spoon
Knife and Chopping board
Hob and Pot

Ingredients


1 405g tin of condensed milk (for those short on time, you can use the caramel version and skip boiling the tin)
100g chocolate chip cookies
200g digestives
150g butter
2 large (or 3 small) ripe bananas
284 ml double or whipping cream (I use elmlea double light as I like the cheese cake type texture/taste, and I can fool myself into thinking it's less calories)
1 flake

Method


Take a large pan and fill with water, bring to the boil.  Remove the label from the condensed milk and then place into the boiling water.  The whole tin must be submerged at all times (apparently it can explode if not covered!) so keep topping up.  Simmer on a gentle boil for 2 hours 30 minutes.

Place the 250g of digestives, and the 100g chocolate chip cookies into the food processor and blitz into crumbs.

Cube the 150g butter and place in a microwavable bowl.  Keep blasting for 30 seconds, then stir - repeat until fully melted.

Pour the melted butter into the biscuit crumbs and blitz to mix - you will need to use a spoon to ensure all crumbs from the bottom are included.

Place this buttery biscuit mix into the spring form tin, and press into place with the pestle (or clean fingers/back of the spoon).  The mix should be even, with a level surface.  Place back into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Once the time has passed for the condensed milk, carefully remove the tin from the heat and place in cold water to cool for about 10 minutes.

Once cooled, open the tin and place the contents into a bowl.  Stir to incorporate any uncaramelized (lighter coloured) bits, and then set aside.

Slice up the bananas and layer them on the biscuit base.

Pour the condensed milk caramel over the biscuits and level off the top - place back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to firm.

Whip up the cream and then spread on top of the caramel.

Bash up the chocolate flake and sprinkle on top of the cream

The pie should be kept in the tin, in the fridge until just before serving.

To remove from the tin, place a food tin (baked beans etc) underneath the spring form tin, in the center.  Carefully work the sides of the tin down, moving from section to section, a bit at a time.  Eventually the sides will come away leaving you with the pie resting on top of the tin base.

Be careful, as the caramel will start to seep out of the sides without the support of the tin - it is best to eat it immediately, or at least place on a large plate to catch any caramel spills.

Enjoy!




Recipe Over Load

Okay, so the last few months have seen me go from posting once a week, to barely once a month, and I sincerely apologize.  With the smell of New Years Resolutions in the air, I am going to make it up to you with 3 easy recipes.  One of them, (bannoffee pie) is kind of my signature piece, and a definite family favourite!  Just don't let any of them know it's actually a doddle ;)  The other two are more recent trials, and I'm sure they are set to become regular requests too.

Join me in adding festive calories to the waist line, and most importantly enjoy!

Easy Sausage and Stuffing Whirls




Christmas may be over, but there are only a few days left until New Year's Eve, and quick party food ideas are a must! Embracing all things 70s (and my love for cinnamon whirls) I decided to over-haul a party favourite - the sausage roll.

The humble sausage roll is much loved, but seeing as I was planning to use cheats puff pastry, (ready made) I felt these need a little extra to make them special - STUFFING! The great thing about these is that you can mix and match the sausage and stuffing flavours :)

Ingredients

1 block chilled jus roll puff pastry (500g)
400g sausage meat - you can use sausages, just split the casing and squeeze out the meat
Half a pack of 170g sage and onion stuffing
Milk to glaze
Salt and Pepper
Flour for rolling

Method

Remove the puff pastry from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (about 20 minutes)

Make up the stuffing according to the directions (remember to halve the amount of water if only using half the pack)

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Try and keep the pastry in an even rectangular shape.

Squeeze out the sausage meat and spread it across the pastry (right to the edges) until even.  Repeat with the stuffing.

Sprinkle salt and pepper across the stuffing/sausage meat.

Starting with one of the longer edges, tightly roll the pastry so it looks like a Swiss roll. Seal the edge with milk.

Tightly wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) 220 degrees

Whilst the oven is preheating, take the sausage wrap from the fridge and remove the clingfilm.  Cut the wrap in half, and then keep cutting the sections in half until you end up with individual pieces about 3cms thick.

Place on a well oiled baking tray (or tray with baking paper) ensuring there is a gap between each whirl as they will spread out when baking.

Brush all areas with a milk glaze and sprinkle on a dash of sea salt and cracked black pepper

Cook in the oven for about 25 minutes - make sure you keep an eye on them as they will catch quickly.

They may need to be rotated during cooking, and could take longer or shorter, depending on individual ovens.

Once the pastry has turned a golden brown, and is cooked throughout, remove and leave to cool slightly (about 5 minutes)

Using a fish slice, carefully remove the individual whirls and place on a wire rack to cool (and prevent a soggy bottom).

These can be eaten either cold (from the fridge) or re-heated on a medium heat for about 7 minutes - take care to ensure these are hot throughout before eating (if re-heating)

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Scrummy frangipane mince pie recipe - thank you Nigella!

So unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere, you will know that poor old Nigella (Lawson) is having a tough old time of it at the moment. Although I've always found her TV shows a little on the caricaturish side, (I can't help but get the giggles and convince myself it is secretly a carry on spin off) the lady most definitely has talent. So in honour of Christmas, and the innuendo rich Nigella, here is her frangipane mince pie recipe - I can honestly say that this is my new favourite mince pie recipe!


PASTRY
175g plain flour
75g butter, cut into cubes
25g icing sugar
1 large egg, beaten



FRANGIPANE
100g butter, softened

100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g ground almonds (if like me you are a doofus and bought flaked almonds, you can grind them in a food processor (blade setting) to make ground almonds
1 level tbsp plain flour
1tsp almond extract - if you are using essence, you will need to add more



FILLING AND TOPPING
just under 1 x 410g jar mincemeat flavoured with about 2 tbsp brandy
a few flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
  1. To make the pastry, measure the flour, butter and icing sugar into a food-processor bowl, then process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the beaten egg and pulse the blade until the dough starts to form a ball. Knead lightly, wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

  2. To make the frangipane, put the butter and sugar into the unwashed processor and blend until soft and creamy. Scrape down the sides, add the eggs and continue to process. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Add the ground almonds, flour and almond extract, and mix briefly.

  1. Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 18 x 6.5cm circles. Use to line the tins. Place pastry in tins back into the fridge and chill for 10 minutes.

  2. Spoon a teaspoon of mincemeat into each tartlet and top with the frangipane mixture. There is no need to spread the mixture flat as it will level out in the oven (but do not overfill the tins). Sprinkle a few flaked almonds on top.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, watching carefully. Remove from the tins and allow to cool a little on a wire rack. 

Enjoy!

If you fancy having these made in advance, and ready to whip out when unexpected guests stop by (Nigella style) then they can be frozen once cool. To defrost, simply remove from the freezer and place on a baking tray for an hour or so.

I have tweaked Nigella's recipe somewhat - I mean otherwise, I could have just provided a link to her site ;) I believe she doesn't chill the pastry enough - this is why I place my prepared tins back in the fridge before filling.  I've also left off the apricot glaze, as personally I just don't think it needs it :)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Such an adventure!

Oh my goodness, it has been over 2 months since my last post (slaps wrist) as always, I do have a legitimate excuse though ;)

I bought a shop!  I would love to say that it is the best thing I have ever done, but sadly this isn't the case.  My bricks and mortar shop is set to fold after only 3 months, and we will be online only :(

My dream was that the shop should be an amalgamation of the business we bought (shabby chic furniture and homeware), my pieces and the possibility of renting space to local handmade artisans.  For a short while, we did indeed succeed!





Sadly however we have reached the stage where we are unable to continue with our dream.  The shop is making a huge loss, and I've had to pull up my big girl knickers and call time.  I am broken hearted that this wasn't a success, but there are many issues impacting on the decision - family life, money, other business pressures and mainly time.

I am now being left with the sad duty of trying to sell all the pieces and store those that don't sell.  The hardest part for me to face is that we have spent all our savings on this dream, and have been left in debt.  We have to sell our flat next year, and our savings were supposed to be a deposit for our next home - it looks like we may need to rent for a while :(

Everyone keeps telling me that it is better to live a life with no regrets, I at least tried.

Do I wish that I had never purchased the shop?  Yes, but I also know that if I didn't, I would have convinced myself it would have been a huge success.