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Posts Tagged ‘white chocolate’

Success! After last week’s disastrous attempts I was sceptical about whether or not I was going to be able to say that.

Technical skills challenge

Thanks to a lot of encouraging advice from friends and family after my plea for help, I summoned the strength to try again on Saturday. So out came the blackberry crème patissiere (which I had to stash in the freezer while I regrouped – turns out it freezes very well by the way), piping bag and other paraphernalia and off I went again. This time I used a recipe with slightly less water (thank you Judy!) and  made a few other tweaks which I’ve highlighted in the recipe and as soon as the choux buns went into the oven I could tell this batch was going to behave itself.

So I have conquered my first technical challenge which should bring with it some sense of achievement… but the other thing I learnt this month was that profiteroles and I still don’t quite get on.

With most things you bake, the sense of  satisfaction hits as soon as they come out of the oven, risen and golden and just as you hoped. With choux pastry, the pressure only increases when they come out of the oven. Then one has to endure the excruciating process of waiting for the last possible moment to fill them and hope that somebody eats the last one before the pastry goes all soft and frankly, inedible (I can’t bear to throw pastries in the bin, its like abandoning children). So profiteroles just don’t have that soothing effect that one gets from preparing cakes and the like and knowing your work here is done.

Having said all that I am still just a little proud of myself, and I think I’ll make them again, as more of a pudding, with a hot sauce and ready and waiting mouths to eat them all at once, which I think is how best to enjoy them.

Extraordinary Flavours

You’ve probably also noticed that these little guys are flaunting a fairly unorthodox flavour combination, because this is my November “extraordinary flavours challenge” entry as well. This idea started with Whittards flavoured tea again but this time it was a bag of Amaretto fruit infusion that got me thinking. The infusion is made up of dried almonds, rose hips and blackberries amongst other things and the fruity and yet aromatic wafts off a cup of this brewed with hot water made me think about winter fruits and warm spicy flavours and how well they support each other (think cinnamon and apples). So my brain wandered from there through various potential combinations until my stomach arrived at blackberry and chai. It definitely works… and makes you sound awfully posh in front of your guests when combined with the word profiterole. If you like the flavour idea but you don’t want to make profiteroles or you want to make something to give as a gift that has a bit more shelf life then you could just as easily use the same  idea for biscuits or cupcakes. Flavour the base with either the fruit or the tea and use the other one for the filling/icing.

The recipe

Adapted from a choux pastry recipe collected by my aunt Judy from a South African Fair Lady Magazine. The basic crème patissiere recipe is adapted from this one.

Pastry

  • 50g butter
  • 125ml water
  • 70g sifted flour
  • 2ml salt
  • 2 medium eggs

Crème Patissiere

  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp castor sugar
  • 1 egg and 2 egg yolks
  • 400ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • half a cup of freeze dried blackberry powder
  • 1 tbsp Whittards Amaretto fruit infusion (optional – it gives the filling an extra nutty floral flavour and it was the inspiration for this recipe but not essential)

Chai topping

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 spiced chai teabag and a little milk or cream

Make the creme patissiere first. Put the cornflour and sugar in a bowl and stir in the eggs to make a paste. Add the split vanilla pod and the fruit infusion if using, to the milk and bring to a simmer. Sieve the milk into a bowl to remove the dried fruit and pod and scrape any remaining vanilla seeds into the mixture. Pour onto the eggs, stirring constantly, then return to the pan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens. Pour into a bowl and mix in the blackberry powder.Cover with cling film and leave to cool before chilling in the fridge.

For the choux pastry, put butter and water into a saucepan and gently melt the butter.  Bring to the boil, take off the heat and tip in the mixture of flour and salt. Return to the stove and beat for 1-2 mins or until mixture is smooth and leaves the sides of the saucepan.  Leave 5 – 10 mins to cool.  Add the eggs a little at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition (with an electric mixer to beat in enough air) to make a smooth , shiny paste that will hold its shape.

Pipe 7cm circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 200C for 20 -30 minutes, or until well risen and golden. If you have a hot oven like mine then turn the oven down after 10 min to about 170C so that they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and make a slit in the side to release the steam. Dry out for another 5 min in the cool oven if necessary (I found they didn’t need it this time round).

To make the topping, melt the chocolate in a pan over a pot of boiling water. Infuse the chai teabag in just enough cream or milk to soak the tea bag and stir over a low heat to concentrate. Drain the teabag and add about a tsp of this to the chocolate, not too much or it wont set. Stir in the spices and cool slightly. Dip the top of each profiterole in the ganache and sprinkle with blackberry powder. Set aside to cool and set. You can do this before you fill them as it doesn’t seem to soften the pastry too much. If you were making this as a pudding you could also add more cream or milk to make a warm chocolate sauce and pour over the profiteroles at the last minute.

Pipe in the filling just before you serve them (ideally no more than an hour beforehand or they will get soft) by poking the nozzle through the bottom of the profiterole or by cutting them in half and replacing the lids after you have filled them.

Here are the lessons I learned so that you can avoid the same initial misfortune:

  • Use the ratio of water to flour as I have above and keep stirring the flour/water mix over the heat for 1-2 min to remove some of the moisture
  • Be careful with your oven temperature – you don’t want the initial heat to make them rise but if your oven is hot you need to turn it down to avoid burnt outsides and soggy deflating insides
  • Use an electric beater if you have one to mix in the eggs otherwise you don’t get enough air and a stiff enough batter
  • Try to pipe or spoon them as neatly as you can as lopsided piping or upward tails makes them go a bit wonky when they rise (although if this is your only problem then you are doing fine)

I’d love to know if this recipe works for other people so please let me know if you try it and even better send me your own flavour ideas! Next month I’ll be posting my challenge subjects at the beginning of the month so that you can enter your own versions if you’re feeling competitive!

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A wedge of cake or a crumbly biscuit and a hot mug of caffeine to dunk it in can sometimes do wonders to lift the spirits… and if that cake can  raise some money for a charity that helps people who are really in need of a helping hand then the good feeling it brings is multiplied ten fold.

This post began with two biscotti recipes.  Seriously good biscotti recipes… but first I have to show you these cupcakes which were brought in for the comic relief bake sale at work because they really deserve to be given their due, as does the baker who made them.

I had such a horrible week that I didn’t even have time to bake anything this time and any amateur offering I might have touted in the name of charity would have simply paled in comparison so in a way my ego is glad I didn’t (I should point out that the biscotti were long gone by this point, I’m not that selfish).

The cupcakes were made by the wife of one of my colleagues at work, who has her own cake business called Regency Cakes and is clearly an amazing baker. Besides the fact that there were boxes upon boxes of the things, each one was perfectly and professionally formed and identical to its little neighbour so I can only imagine how many hours of sifting, beating, piping and sprinkling must have gone into making them all. I was so impressed and I thought putting so much effort into something with no personal financial gain, deserved a little recognition.

So if you need a cake fix or you just want some inspiration, stop drooling on my blog thank you and go and have a look at Lisa’s website.

Now… onto some other clever bakers.

I found these two biscotti recipes on completely separate internet wanderings but both immediately peaked my interest and when I finally got around to making them I landed up combining both. The first one from Tastefully Done grabbed me because it was so simple and the picture looked so delicious. The second from Yum!Therapy looked a little more complicated ingredient wise but had me sold from the minute I saw the words “lemon” and “white chocolate drizzle” (as you’ll see from the over excited exchange I had in the comments history!). Oddly enough, both recipes were adapted from  Giada De Laurentiis so that must say something about my tastes (and her baking).

A couple of weeks ago I decided I couldnt wait any longer to make the lemon ones but I didnt have any cornmeal in the cupboard or any almonds for that matter. Thankfully the dark chocolate recipe didnt need either so I decided to use that batter recipe and split to make a light and a dark version. I also had some pistachio nuts that were going to land up in the bin and they look so delicious on a dark chocolate background so they filled in for the almonds on one half. As it turns out, the dark ones go really well with coffee and the white chocolate go really well with tea so your dunking needs are covered no matter which beverage you’re in the mood for.

Without further ado, here’s my version of the two recipes combined and ever so slightly tweaked…

Dark Chocolate with Pistachio & White Chocolate with Lemon Biscotti

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 140g dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios (or 3/4 cup toasted almonds)
  • 140g white chocolate
  • zest of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 170°C.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, butter, and salt in a large bowl to blend and beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in e thalmond extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended.

Split the dough into two and add the lemon zest to one and most of the pistachios to the other (keep a few for sprinkling on the top).  If you are using almonds then add half to each dough or add them before you split it.

Place the two dough balls onto the baking sheets and shape into two flattened logs, about 20cm long and 5cm wide. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned and cool for 5 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 2cm thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the the oven, but leave the biscotti in for approximately 10 minutes longer. The biscotti should be pale golden. Let cool completely.

Melt the two chocolates in bowls set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts (I did mine one at a time so that the second one could melt while I was using the first). Spatula the dark chocolate on to the tops of the pistachio biscotti and sprinkle with the extra nuts. Leave the lemon biscotti on their sides on the tray and drizzle over the white chocolate. Put them all in the fridge for about half an hour for the chocolate to set and then store in an airtight container (they keep well if you can make them last long enough).

If you have any melted chocolate left over I suggest spreading it out on some kitchen foil and sprinkling over any left over nuts. Set in the fridge and break into shards to use on top of deserts or as a snack when your biscotti run out (they make good writing fuel when you are typing up the results of your baking expedition!).

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…Get it drunk and hug it with biscuit-ness.

This recipe was born of the need to use left over home made granola that was begging for a more naughty end to its life. At the same time, my biscuit tin was looking a bit empty so the most obvious idea was to use it to make oat biscuits with a twist and kill two birds with one wooden spoon.

Because the end result turned out to be worth repeating, I’ve created two versions of the recipe depending on whether you happen to have any granola lying around or not. Either way you should land up with a crispy, slightly chewy oat biscuit that has enough excitement to make it worthy of the title of biscuit (or cookie depending on what country you’re from) as opposed to the dreaded ‘health bar’ that you might associate with granola. Just to make really sure, there’s a splash of orange liqueur in there for good measure and I’m fairly sure the amount of butter and sugar alone means they wont make it onto any lists for slimmer biscuit of the year. Bad news for those of you who have found this post whilst searching for healthy granola recipes… good news for those of us who don’t give a stuff.

so without further ado, here’s the recipe. Hope it perks up the start to your week.

Cranberry, Orange and White Chocolate Granola Biscuits

OR If you are making from scratch

  • 100g rolled oats
  • 75g white chocolate chips
  • 25g sunflower seeds
  • 25g flaked almonds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • zest of half an orange
  • 125g butter
  • 75g dark brown sugar
  • 75g demerera sugar plus 50g for rolling
  • 2 tbsp orange liqueur
  • 150g plain flour

Orange Glaze

  • 50g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp orange juice

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

If you are making from scratch: combine the oats, nuts, seeds and spices and toast in the oven until lightly golden (about 15-20 min, stirring every 5 min to brown evenly). Allow this to cool and then add cranberries, orange zest and white chocolate chips.

Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the orange liqueur and mix in. Sift in the flour and combine well before adding the granola/ oat mixture.

Roll into balls, roughly 1 inch in diameter and roll each one in the extra demerera sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet and flatten with the back of a fork. Bake for 15 min until golden.

Combine the orange juice and icing sugar and drizzle over the biscuits when they have cooled. When the glaze has set, store in an airtight container for as long as humanly possible.

Happy biscuit munching Monday!

P.s. I made another very special, even less healthy batch of biscuits at the same time as these (butter, lots of butter). Details and recipe to follow later on this week…

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