Tag Archives: Butter

Chocolate morsels of love

20 Feb

Chocolate cakes of love

Over a year ago I bought a silicone pan to make wee heart-shaped cakes, intending to make wee treats of love for Valentines Day.

But I left the cake pan in Edinburgh, while I was enjoying Valentines in the country. So that didn’t work.

This year I remembered to bring the cake pan to the country, but had over-indulged so much already over the weekend that there was no way I was going to make any chocolate cakes, however cute and heart shaped they might be.

But this weekend was different.

I had a whole list of things to achieve: long walk with the dogs; drink with his kids in Glasgow; a couple of sewing projects to finish; soup to make; a curry to make (and eat); a greenhouse to clean and set up for the spring seed-sowing; laundry to wash and hang out; candle lit baths to loll about in. And I intended to do some veg bed digging too, but that didn’t get done. All the other things did get completed though (ish). And while I was on a roll, achieving so much, I ended up achieving more too – I made the cutest heart shaped gingery dark chocolate cakes. And it so happens they are perfect with fresh pears, not even poached, just chopped up and put in a bowl with all their juicy loveliness, accompanied by a sweet wee chocolate heart of cakey wonderfulness.

So, this is what I did:

Wee ginger chocolate hearts (or morsels of love)

Pre-heat oven to GM 5 or 6, if you don’t have a silicone cake pan, prepare either a 23cm sandwich tin, or a loaf tin, or put a load of paper cupcake cases in a muffin tin. 

  • 4oz soft butter (at room temperature if you have a warm room, otherwise pop it in the microwave at a low power setting in 20second bursts till it’s squishy soft)
  • 4oz light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger
  • 3oz SR flour
  • 1oz cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 balls of ginger from a jar of stem ginger, chopped fine
  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Add the eggs and ginger syrup and beat again. It’ll probably curdle, but don’t worry too much about it
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa and BP and beat again
  4. Now fold in the ginger bits
  5. Spoon the batter into the cake moulds (or sandwich tin or paper cases, or whatever you are using)
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes are firm to touch

Delicious warm (heat up for 30s in the microwave) with that blackcurrant icecream I first made a few months ago. Or as I said, just with fresh pears. Or on their own, just as a wee treat with a cup of coffee.

Wee chocolate heart cakes

I suspect that they would be mighty scrumptious with a cream cheese icing too.

Or replace the ginger nibs with some frozen raspberries, scrunched, or chopped up, and serve with a raspberry coulis.

Go on, experiment.

Tollhouse cookies

30 Jan

Tollhouse Cookies are a memory from my childhood. I had a recipe written in my childish hand-writing, which if memory serves me correctly had the list of ingredients but no instructions. I made them so often I didn’t need instructions and so I knew that they were the most delicious of cookies.

I’m pretty sure the recipe came from my Aunt Joyce, the Queen of Baking in my world. And I’m also fairly certain that the recipe is in my mother’s recipe book. So, if I really wanted I could no doubt get back the original, and make them exactly as they were in those eternally sunny summers back in the mid 70s. But I also recall that they had half lard, half butter (or even marg) … and I know that using half lard can make pastry beautifully short, but I don’t think I want to use lard in my biscuits any more. So, if I’m going to play about with the recipe anyway, I may as well just find a new one, and adapt from there.

So, this weekend I did some internet research, so you don’t have to.  Although if you really want to find out more, you can do worse than starting out here on my friend wikipedia.

Now, a bit of background for you. One of the reasons I feel quite so strongly about Tollhouse Cookies might be because my father’s office was in the original Tollhouse in our town.  I know it’s purely circumstantial, and literally hundreds of towns must have their own historical tollhouses, so clearly my recipe was no more authentic than any other. But, my recipe had choc chips AND nuts and I am not about to mess with my memory by either making a Tollhouse Cookie with no nuts, or re-naming the biscuits of my childhood Choc Chip n Nut Cookies.

But anyway, the research revealed a few things about 21st century tollhouse cookies: the butter should be melted and the sugar needs to be a mixture of brown/muscovado and caster – this will give a more caramelly taste and chewy texture, which works for me. And the cookies should be left on their baking sheet once nearly cooked so they complete the cooking out of the oven. No-one seemed to want to put nuts in them though, so feel free to omit them if you want. But then please just call them choc chip cookies.

Tollhouse cookies

Preheat oven to 170C or Gas Mark 3. Grease at least two baking sheets. Or I guess you could line them with baking parchment instead.

170g unsalted butter

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

1/2 tsp salt

200g dark brown or muscovado sugar

100g light brown sugar (or caster)

1 TBSp vanilla extract

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

200g dark chocolate, chopped into wee chips

125g mixed nuts, chopped into wee chips. I’ve not tried it, but you could probably use salted nuts if you’re a fan of the sugar-salt-choc thing.

  1. Melt the butter in a big bowl (this is the bowl that the whole mixture is going to end up in so make it big enough). I use a microwave to melt the butter, but of course you could melt it in a pan and then tip it into the bowl.
  2. Sift the flour, bicarb and salt together in a different bowl – this is really just to mix it together, as most flour these days doesn’t need sifting – but it’s an old habit with me, so I like to sift it all
  3. Add the sugars to the melted butter and beat with an electric beater (or a wooden spoon if you want to work off those bingo wings) until you have a light fluffy mixture
  4. Now add the vanilla essence and the eggs and beat some more
  5. Mix in the flour and stuff with a wooden spoon, then mix through the nuts and chocolate chips
  6. Depending how warm your kitchen is, you’ll either have a soft-ish batter, or a much stiffer dough… my kitchen was baltic this weekend, so the butter cooled down quickly and I had quite a stiff dough
  7. Now, how big do you want your cookies? I use about a soup-spoonful of mixture in a big lump, and they spread out to around 3-4 inches diameter.  But you might want to make ENORMOUS cookies like those ones you get at train stations… you’d probably need about 4 TBsps of cookie mixture for that size.
  8. Remember to leave gaps between each dollop of mixture – the larger the dollop the bigger the gap required. For the enormous ones you’ll need at least 3″ I’d say.
  9. Bake for about 16 minutes, but this will depend on which shelf they are on in your oven, how hot the oven actually is and what size you’ve made your cookies. Ideally you need to take them out when they are golden around the edges, but not toasted in the middle. Leave them on the baking tray to cool down, they will continue to cook. Then remove them to a cooling tray. This will give you a slightly chewy cookie, if you prefer them crisper, just keep them in the oven a wee bit longer, till they are uniformly coloured.
  10. Once they are cool, transfer them into two separate airtight containers. Keep one lot at home, and take the rest to your colleagues, or to someone you love (not mutually exclusive).

There!  How easy was that? And according to my colleagues, they’re a winner.
But before you run off to bake cookies, a top tip for you. Some of you will know this already, but if you’re not a baker you might not. Don’t keep opening the oven door to check your cookies, and when you do open the door, be sure to shut it gently afterwards, as slamming it shut will blow in cold air, and mess with the cooking. This is even more important when you’re baking cakes, or anything you expect to rise. If you slam the door, it’s like slamming a big weight onto your delicate cake.

Bacon maple brownies

11 Dec

Thank you Nigella.  They’re in the oven, so I don’t know yet if they are to die for, or a waste of some perfectly good ingredients.  The constituent parts were scrummy (well, I had to lick the spoon after scraping the brownie batter into the tin, and the baconny-syrupy scraps on the plate were just asking to be licked up).

But really?  Bacon in chocolate brownies?  I totally see where you came from with this – bacon and maple syrup pancakes are divine.  And as a child I remember the treat that was bacon with fried bread and honey. Now, whatever happened to fried bread?  Did the health Nazis get rid of it for good? Possibly not the worst decision ever made, but still divine in my childhood memory.

Anyway, Nigella sent me a recipe for Bacon Brownies.  Well, she didn’t just send it to me, it was sent out to anyone who subscribed to whatever style thingy she’s guest editing this week.  And now I’m wondering if it was all just a big hoax, to see what muppets would actually make it.  Well, here I am, prize muppet! I give you Bacon Maple Brownies, inspired by Nigella, but not exactly the same.

Bacon maple brownies

Preheat oven to 190C / 375F / GM5

(OK, now I see why my finished brownies seem even gooier than they should be, I had the oven not quite hot enough).

Grease and line a 25cm square brownie tin.  Or Nigella does it in a throw away tin, of course she does.  Her hands aren’t made for washing up.  And it’s so much easier to take a gift of brownies when you pop in to your neighbours if they are in a throw away dish!

100g thin rashers of streaky bacon, snipped or chopped into teeny weeny pieces

2tsp maple syrup (or golden syrup)

150g unsalted butter

250g soft light brown sugar

75g cocoa powder

150g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

4 large eggs, beaten

150g chopped chocolate (dark, or milk)

  1. Heat a heavy frying pan and then add the bacon bits, and fry till they are just going crispy
  2. Add the syrup, and mix quickly, then pour the whole bacony syrupy mixture onto a plate to cool
  3. In a large heavy pan melt the butter over a low heat.  This is the pan the whole batter will be made, so make it big enough
  4. Once the butter is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon.  Bash out the sugary lumps (unless you anticipated this and sifted it in advance).
  5. While the butter was melting you should have put the flour, cocoa and bicarb into a bowl and mixed it.  And cracked the eggs into a bowl and beaten them.
  6. Once the sugar and butter are mixed, add the flour mixture and stir it in
  7. Add the beaten eggs, and stir all together
  8. Throw in the chopped chocolate, and then use your finger to nudge all the bacon off the plate into the chocolate batter. Lick your fingers.  And wonder if this was all a hoax and you should have just made ordinary brownies, and had maple syrupy bacon bits as a separate snack.
  9. Mix all together
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25 mins or so.  It will still be slightly wobbly, so you have ultimate gooeyness in your brownies.  But if you cook it at the right temperature it shouldn’t be too gooey.
  11. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cut into pieces.  Not too small, but not too big pieces.  You know, a couple of decent mouthfuls.

Don’t tell anyone what is in them

Mine are out of the oven now and I’ve decided it’s not a hoax – they are divine.  That sweet yet salty hit of a wee nubbin of bacon is just perfect in the rich gooeyness of the brownie.  They may not be glamorous, but oh my god they are tasty.

Nibbles

4 Dec

20180103_121854.jpg

Super easy cheesy sesame biscuits

Are we counting down to Christmas yet?  I am.  In my house, that means practising various recipes to make sure they are up to scratch as Christmas gifts.  And today is nibbles testing.

First off were some cheesy sesame biscuits, which aren’t yet in the oven (they’re doing that resting in the fridge thing, so beloved of pastry-type goods). They were ridiculously easy, and have persuaded me of the value of my food processor.  I’ve owned the food processor for bloody years.  It usually lives on a shelf, just out of reach, under the stairs.  I last used it when I attempted one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals.  He likes to use a lot of gadgets and I knew if I wanted to be in with a chance of having two courses served up within 45 minutes the food processor would be needed. I actually would have needed two, but that’s another story. It was delicious!

But back to the cheesy sesame biscuits.  They are from my new favourite cook book: Ham, Pickles & Jam by Thane Prince.  It’s a glory of a book – full of reminders of (mostly lost) traditional kitchen skills, like preserving with salt (gravad lax and preserved lemons in this section) and drying (oven-dried tomatoes and beef jerky here).  Sadly most of the drying recipes require a dehydrator, so I may take a while before I get to testing that section.

Oh my, now that I’ve brought the recipe out again to type it up, I see I’ve omitted a key ingredient in the biscuits (how can I do this when there are only 5 ingredients?).  Read on and you’ll see.  And you’ll see my adaptation too.

Cheesy Sesame biscuits

  • 4oz SR flour, or use plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder.  Gluten-free is evidently best, so that is what I have used
  • 3oz butter
  • 3oz blue cheese ( I used a distinctly average dolcelatte from tesco’s but would like to try this with some oozingly yummy gorgonzola next time)
  • 3TBsp parmesan, grated
  • 2-3 TBsp sesame seeds
  1. Place all ingredients except the sesame seeds in the bowl of your food processor and whiz, using short bursts of power, till it combines to make a dough (I forgot to add the parmesan, thinking it was going to be part of the sesame coating at the end… ooopsie)
  2. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F / GM7 and grease or line a baking sheet
  4. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll cherry-sized pieces of dough into balls
  5. Roll the balls in sesame seeds (or for me, the mix of sesame seeds and parmesan) and place on the greased baking sheet.  Make an indentation in the centre of each ball with your thumb, or a teaspoon
  6. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack
  7. Perfect with an aperitif!!!  A nice wee sherry I think.

So… I clearly failed that recipe, but I suspect they will be tasty all the same.

Edited February 2018 to add:

Instead of rolling these into individual balls, roll the whole lot of dough into one big sausage (stage 2) and leave in the fridge for a while. When you take it out, slice it up. Pour a whole lot of sesame seeds onto a plate and press each slice into the sesame seeds to cover them. Place them seed side up onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 6-7 mins as above. They looks pretty special done this way (see pic above). 

While the dough has been in the fridge (and I’ve made our Christmas cake, and lunch) I also made some spicy nuts.  Also from Thane Prince, but to be honest I went a bit off-piste with this recipe too, which I think is the whole point of this one.  But, if you want to make your own roasted spicy nuts, here you go:

Roasted spicy nuts

  • 250g nuts (I used a mixture of cashews and blanched almonds)
  • some olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw egg white (not sure this is entirely necessary)
  • 1 TBsp salt flakes – use the best quality salt you can find
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and finely ground

Preheat oven to 150C / 300F / GM2

  1. Drizzle some oil on a baking sheet
  2. Place the nuts on a single layer on the baking sheet
  3. Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, till a pale golden brown
  4. While they are in the oven, use a teeny tiny whisk and try to whisk up the wee bit of egg white, really just to break it down a bit
  5. And use a pestle and mortar to grind the salt and mix with the cumin. I went off-recipe and just threw some cayenne pepper in with the salt once I’d ground it a bit with the pestle and mortar
  6. As soon as the nuts are out of the oven, turn them in the egg white, which is meant to turn them glossy.  I didn’t notice any glossiness, but it doesn’t seem to have done any harm, and I had a spare egg white from the biscuits I made yesterday, so that was ok.
  7. Once you’ve tossed your nuts in the egg white, throw the salt and spice mix over them and toss some more.  The flavours will dry on as the nuts cool
  8. Keep in an airtight container, unless you are eating immediately with drinkies.  More sherry I think!

I suspect that both of these will end up as Christmas gifts. Further copies of the book might too, if books are allowed in our homemade Christmas again this year.

Next weekend I’m baking a ham. Any suggested recipes or just general ideas for what to do gratefully received (and brutally altered to fit whatever I have in the cupboard and what mood I’m in).

later…

OK… I baked the cheesy sesame biscuits and they are just scrumptious! They are light and crumbly, and have a great blue cheesy flavour, with that typical ‘back’ flavour that comes with a strong blue cheese.  Make them!  they are delicious,  and would be even nicer with a wee glass of something to accompany them.  Pictures will follow.

A few days later… and here is a promised picture.  OK, I know I promised pictures, but you’re just getting one for just now.

Nummy nibbles

Nutty biscuits

20 Nov

Ginger nutty goodness

When I was wee my two favourite things to bake were peanut butter cookies and tollhouse cookies.  One of these days I’ll dig out the old recipes, if I can find them – the tollhouse cookies recipe I’m pretty sure was from my Aunt Joyce, a brilliant cook and a seriously good baker.  One of my happiest childhood memories is sitting on the bench at her enormous kitchen table while she made pancakes (drop scones to non-Scots) on the rayburn beside us.  It seemed to take her only minutes from having independent ingredients to  these perfect warm pillows of baked goodness, spread with homemade raspberry jam.  Yum.

Yesterday I saw a Jamie Oliver recipe for Nutty Ginger Biscuits, and realised it was a pimped up version of my old peanut butter cookies.  So, I made them this morning.  They are indeed a more sophisticated biscuit than mine ever were, but then it was the 70s when I was baking them, less sophisticated times, especially for rural 12 year olds.

This recipe makes a light crumbly biscuit, not a chewy cookie.  The clementine zest definitely adds a touch of class, and next time I make them I will add some ginger to the dough as well as the nubbin of the crystallised ginger on top.

The recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s magazine and I’ll be making his Jerky Hocks later, with two enormous ham hocks.  If it works, I’ll share.  I’ve slightly adapted the cookie recipe here, so if you want the original you need to buy his lovely magazine.

Nutty Ginger Biscuits

250g unsalted butter, softened.

140g sugar (I used a mixture of half and half caster and light muscovado)

1 egg yolk (I’ll make meringues later with the white)

2 TBsp crunchy peanut butter (I added 3)

Grated zest of 2 clementines

300g plain flour

2-3 balls of stem ginger from a jar

A few TBsp of desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C / GM4. Line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

  1. If the room temperature of your kitchen is as cold a mine, soften your butter.  My mum will do this by leaving it near the rayburn for a while.  But she doesn’t bake any more, so it’s unlikely to happen.  I cut mine into big chunks, put it in the large bowl and zizzed it in the microwave for 40s at half power.  Don’t even attempt this recipe with hard butter
  2. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and creamy
  3. Add the egg yolk, clementine zest and peanut butter.  Jamie added some vanilla essence here too, but I forgot and they still tasted yummy
  4. Beat again till combined
  5. Sift in the flour, and mix all together with a large metal spoon.  or wooden would do I suppose.  But don’t use electric beaters – you are just combining at this stage, not attempting to beat more air into it (which I suspect would be self-defeating).
  6. Now, take dessertspoonful size nubbins of dough and evenly space them on the baking sheets.  Squish them down a little, so they are sort of cookie shaped.
  7. Put a wee bit of ginger into the top of each biscuit, and sprinkle with desiccated coconut.
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes, till golden brown
  9. Let sit on the baking tray for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Freezing biscuit dough.  Have you ever done it? I can’t say I have.  But Jamie says that these freeze well – just freeze them once they are on sheets of greaseproof paper in their rough cookie shapes.  Once frozen, they could probably be stored in a bag, or tub.  To cook from frozen, bake at 180C / GM4 for 10-15 mins till golden. Now, how brilliant would that be?  Must try harder not to bake them all at once next time.

Melting moments

30 Oct

So, this is a recipe I used to make years ago, when I was a teenager.  The original recipe is from Rosemary Wadey’s Cakes and Cake Decorating which I think I bought with either school prize money, or a Christmas book token when I was about 14 years old.  It has some of my favourite biscuit recipes: Grantham Gingers, Oat Crisps, Viennese Biscuits and the easiest of all: 1-2-3 biscuits.  But perhaps my favourite was Melting Moments – they are easy to make, look as though you might have bought them and taste scrumptiously delicious.

And they can be adapted. The basic recipe is for vanilla biscuits, rolled in scrunchy cornflakes before they are cooked, and with a nub of glace cherry on top.  When I made them recently I realised we only had chocolate weetabix in the cupboard, no plain cornflakes.  So, I made chocolate melting moments, rolled in scrunchy chocolate weetabix, still with a nub of glace cherry on top.

Chocolate cookies

Anyway, here we go:

Melting Moments

6oz butter (or half and half, butter and lard – oh yes, this recipe is so old that it uses lard.  But in reality, lard can create a shorter texture for biscuits). Soften the butter before you start cooking (so you might want to leave it out in the kitchen for a while before you start)

5oz caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

10oz self raising flour, sifted

1 tsp vanilla essence

about 2oz cornflakes, crushed (use a small plastic bag and scrunch them)

8 glace cherries, quartered

Pre-heat oven to 180C / 350F / GM4. Grease 2 baking sheets

  1. Beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  This is the most important step in this recipe – if the butter and sugar isn’t creamed properly the mixture won’t be light enough
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence
  3. Work in the flour to give a fairly stiff dough
  4. Take dessertspoonfuls of mixture and roll them into balls
  5. Roll each ball in crushed cornflakes and place fairly well apart on the baking sheet
  6. Flatten the balls of mixture slightly and press a piece of cherry into the centre of each ball
  7. Bake for 15 – 20 mins or till golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.
Alternate versions:
Replace 1-2 oz of flour with 1-2oz of cocoa powder and about 1/2 tsp baking powder.
You can also replace some of the flour with custard powder to give a smoother and creamier biscuit.  Again, just swap some of the flour for custard powder, and add a wee bit of baking powder.
I think they would be nice with a wee bit of chopped ginger (you know, the stuff out of the jar) in them.  But then I love gingery things.  You would probably want to replace the glace cherry with a nubbin of ginger too.  Yum.

Chicken liver pate

25 Sep

OK.  So it’s a cooking weekend.  I could add the beef stew (a sort of boeuf bourguignon, but only because I added red wine) but I think I’ll leave it for another day.

Today my nephew made pizza for lunch, and very tasty it was too.  I made a salad or two to accompany it, and to be honest hardly any salad got eaten, but that’s the way of salad when there’s pizza about.  Even pear, blue cheese and toasted walnut salad with a honey dressing.  Ah well.

But after lunch I made chicken liver pate.  It’s so easy. Why don’t I make this all the time?

I looked up a number of recipes, and then went my own way, incorporating what I’d learnt, but not being a slave to the recipe.

The starting point was that I had 270g of chicken livers.  I popped them in a small bowl (actually a souffle dish) and covered them in milk, and then abandoned them in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Then I finely chopped a shallot and gently gently cooked it in its own body weight of butter.  Once it was deliciously soft, I added a chopped clove of garlic.  You could of course have squidged the garlic through a garlic press, but I think life is too short for cleaning garlic presses.  Anyway, the last one I had I squidged the garlic into a dish and ended up having to fish out lots of wee bits of metal from the supper.  The holey bit of the press had sheered out with the pressure of the garlic. Not nice.

OK, soften the garlic in the buttery goodness for a wee while.  Add thyme or sage or bay if you have any. Or marjoram.  Marjoram was all I could find, so that is what we’ve got.  Thyme would have been much much nicer.

Way before you added the garlic, while you were listening to the gentle cooking of the shallot, you should take the chicken livers out of the milk and popped them on some kitchen paper on a plate.  Soak up the milk a bit and then pick over the livers and remove any green bits, or any stringy fatty bits (you know those bits that join two lovely livery bits together). Don’t be over fastidious about the stringy bits – but be as pernickety as you like about the green bits.  Eeek.

Once the garlic has been doing its thing with the butter and shallots for a while, add the chicken livers in.  Turn up the heat a bit, but not too much – you don’t want anything to burn, just to cook.

The livers will only need 4-5 minutes to cook – they should be soft brown on the outside, but still pink on the inside.

Now, plop it all into a liquidiser.  And liquidise.

Once it is all combined, add more butter.  I’d left the butter out on the side all morning so it was deliciously soft, but it will melt quickly anyway in the hot pate.  For 270g of livers, you should add about 140g of butter in total (including what you used to cook the shallots and garlic).  I didn’t weigh anything, but I think I added about that much, judging by how much wasn’t left in the packet!

Now, put the pate into a dish.

Melt enough butter to pour over the top of the pate to make a seal.  Once the butter is melted, spoon it over the top of the pate.  Only use the oily butter which is on top, and throw the liquid white whey away.

A true professional would have added a herb to the melted butter and let it steep for a while to add extra flavour to the finished pate. I didn’t bother.  And I’ll bet it’s delicious anyway.  You can also add madeira or brandy as you cook the chicken livers, but I don’t think it needs it.  Unless of course you are looking for ways to use up those bottle ends of brandy or madeira.

Enjoy with sourdough bread or toasted white, if you’re eating carbs.  If not, have it with a big salad of spinach with sweet cherry tomatoes.  Even an onion relish/marmalade.

Now, I’ve discovered there are lots of apples in the garden, needing to be made into something.  I think it’s time for apple chutney.

 

 

 

Sophisticated chocolate brownies

25 Sep

Brownies seem to be endlessly adaptable.  I’ve made them with ginger, with nuts, with more and more and more chocolate. I think I must try them with mint.  And possibly orange, although I’m never quite sure about chocolate and orange, and thoroughly disapprove of orange anywhere near milk chocolate.

But this weekend it’s all about the sophisticated flavour combo of cardamom and chocolate.  I have to credit both The Times and West London’s favourite provider of baked goods: Cocomaya. So, thank you.  And I hope you don’t mind me re-producing your recipe here.

I’m looking after my nephews this weekend, so am cooking in a less familiar kitchen, although having a Rayburn to bake in is a delight and reminds me of happy happy childhood weekends, baking scrumptious goodies for the family.

Posh chocolate brownies in a Le Creuset dish

Cardamom chocolate brownies

250g unsalted butter (I used slightly salted as that was what was in the fridge)

15 green cardamom pods

100g plain flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

350g dark chocolate (at each 70% cocoa solids)

250g muscovado sugar

50g caster sugar (I used a combination of soft dark brown and soft light brown sugar)

4 large eggs

1/2 tsp salt

15 x 20cm cake tin… I couldn’t find the right size, so ended up using a le creuset oval lasagne style dish, approximately the right size

Oven 130C, GM2.  The Rayburn was on medium, which is probably slightly higher than recommended

  1. Grease the baking tin
  2. Slightly bash the cardamom pods and extract the black seeds, throw away the green dry husks
  3. Put the butter and the cardamom seeds into a small pan and melt.  Set aside for a few hours.  If you have an Aga or a Rayburn  then leave it on the side where it can remain liquid.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl
  5. Place the chocolate in a bowl and strain the butter onto it. Place over a pan of simmering water to melt
  6. In a large bowl mix the sugars together and squish out any lumps.  Add the eggs and mix.  Don’t beat, you don’t need to add air to this mixture (although I was reading a Hugh Fearnley Whatsisname recipe last night which says you beat for 4-5 minutes at this stage to incorporate lots of air. I didn’t and it worked out REALLY well).
  7. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and stir through
  8. Fold in the flour, followed by the salt
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared tin – spread into the corners if you need to.
  10. Bake for about 45 minutes.  The recipe states only 20 minutes, and in the end I baked it for just over an hour and it still has the lovely squidgy gooey-ness.
  11. Leave to cool and then cut into pieces.  I note that Cocomaya decorate theirs with gold leaf.  Feel free to do the same if you have any spare gold leaf hanging about in your cupboards.

Tablet

5 Jun

My brother wants a tablet recipe to bag up and sell at a fair… and so I have been tasked with giving him the best tablet recipe I know.

Hmmmmm… I used to have a good plain tablet recipe, but not sure where it is right now, possibly in the flat in Edinburgh.  But never mind, I have an array of Sue Lawrence cook books here, and she is the most reliable recipe writer I know.

So, I give you White chocolate and cardamom tablet

Sue Lawrence instructs you to follow these instructions to the letter.  I would urge you to do the same.  There’s nothing worse than attempting to make tablet and ending up with soft goo.  Or something that sets too hard and too quick and is impossible to cut into cute wee squares.  OK, there are actually some things worse, but you know what I mean.

125g / 4 1/2 oz unsalted butter

1kg / 2 1/4 lb golden granulated sugar

300ml / 1/2 pint full fat milk

a pinch of salt

200ml / 7fl oz condensed milk (this is half a regular can)

100g/ 3 1/2 oz  quality white chocolate, grated

7-8 cardamom pods, snipped open and seeds crushed (about 1tsp)

Butter a 23cm x 33cm Swiss-roll tin

  1. Place the butter in a large heavy based saucepan and melt slowly.
  2. Add the sugar, milk and salt and stir until the sugar is dissolved, still over a low-ish heat. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat too high, you don’t want it to boil before the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer over a fairly high heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring often, getting into all the corners.
  4. Add the condensed milk, chocolate and cardamom and simmer for 8-10 minutes over a medium high heat, stirring constantly.  Turn off your phone, or if you don’t , ignore it if it rings.
  5. After 8 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and test the contents for readiness: it should be at the ‘soft ball’ stage which means that when you drop a little of the mixture into a cup of very cold water, it will form a soft ball that you can pick up between your fingers.  If you are using a sugar thermometer, it should register 115C / 240F.
  6. Remove the mixture from the heat at once and beat with an electric beater (set at medium speed) for 4-5 minutes (or by hand for 10 minutes) until the mixture begins to stiffen a little and become ever so slightly grainy.
  7. Immediately pour it into the prepared tin and leave to cool.
  8. Mark the tablet into wee squares when it is almost cold.
  9. When it is completely cold, remove it from the tin and store in an airtight container or wrap in waxed paper.

I haven’t made this for years, but I love it.  The white chocolate and cardamom isn’t overwhelming but adds a slight sophistication to this ultimate Scottish home made treat.  Whoever saw a bag of tablet for sale that wasn’t ‘Homemade’?

 

 

 

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