Thursday, 24 April 2014

Chocolate Macarons with Kahlua Ganache

Macarons - these humble morsels have a reputation for reducing grown women to tears…both the women tearing their hair out doing the baking and those doing the tasting.

I've never really been a fan of the store bought variety (despite having ample opportunity to taste the real deal while living in France for a year.) For some reason they never really captured my imagination - or my taste buds for that matter.

That is, until a friend came over for dinner last week and brought a batch she had made…to say I was bowled over is an understatement.

They were so soft and light, seemingly completely insubstantial, yet packing a punch of chewy sweet delicious lingering flavour…I was smitten…and once they were sob finished, I had to have more…immediately!

Louise mentioned the Ottolenghi recipe so I did a quick search which came up with a few different options as well as instructions and oven temperatures that varied quite widely.
After a few experiments, I've found a combination that works well with my oven.

In a food processor whizz together:
110g icing sugar, 50g ground almonds, 12g cocoa powder.
Once its a fine powder, sieve into a bowl.
Using an electric beater, whip up:
2 egg whites until stiff.
Add in 40g castor sugar.

Once the meringue forms soft glossy peaks, add half the almond mix and fold in gently. Add the remaining mix and fold until incorporated.

Place a piping bag upright in tall glass to make it easier to fill then scoop the meringue into the bag.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper. As a guide you can draw circles leaving spaces to allow for the mixture spreading.
Pipe the meringue into each circle forming a disc.
Give the tray a bash on the counter to allow air bubbles to escape.

Leave the trays out for 15-30 minutes to allow the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and bake for 12-14 minutes.
At 12 minutes open the oven door to allow steam to escape.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the trays.

Allow to cool.

For the ganache, heat 100g double cream in a saucepan.
Once its simmering, remove from heat and add 100g chocolate (I use Cadbury's Top Deck).
Allow to stand for 2 minutes and then whisk until its smooth and glossy.
Add 2 T Kahlua and mix it in.

I put my ganache into the fridge to allow it to harden.
After 10 minutes it should be firm enough to scoop between 2 macaron wafers.

I'm heading out to dinner with friends in town this evening and am wrapping a few macarons in a gift box for the hostess.
I've decorated my box with beautiful ribbon and an exquisite button from the new Incomparable range

I'm parting with these macarons rather hesitantly…perhaps I'll pop to the farm stall on the way and take her a bunch of flowers instead!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Easter Gift Pockets

Easter weekend is happening so late this year that it almost feels as though it must have been and gone already…and instead of being super prepared with all the extra planning time, I've fallen behind in my Easter preparations…just as well then that these pretty paper gift pockets are so quick and easy to make.

They are perfect for filling with small Easter treats and placing at each table setting or filling a basket at the door for guests to take one home with them as they leave.

You can whip these together while sitting in front of the TV…you might have to invite a few more guests to Easter though, as they're just so easy to make!

Use the template below or draw up your own using a triangle the size you require. Then draw two equal sized triangles next to the middle one…leaving a small triangle at the top for a fold over flap.

Fold over on the lines, glue the two opposite sides down together, fill with homemade goodies, close the flap and secure it with a cut out shape of paper and embellish it with the cutest Easter-themed buttons from our catalog.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Choc Chip Banana Muffins

If you've read through a few of our recipes, you'll have seen our guilt free banana muffins which are delicious and, unbelievably, healthy too.

This version notches it up on the taste scale and knocks healthy aside.

As a bonus, you need use only one bowl and they can be whipped together in about 5 minutes flat.

Which leaves just one question…what are you waiting for?

Turn the oven to 180ºC.
Mix together the following:
3 bananas, roughly mashed,
1 C sugar,
2 C flour,
1 t bicarbonate of soda,
1 t vanilla,
3 T sour cream,
2 eggs,
1/2 C butter, soft,
1 C choc chips (I used Cadbury's Top Deck)

Spoon into cupcake cases in a muffin tray.

Try to keep yourself busy for the next 20-25 minutes while they bake.

If they don't disappear within a few seconds, you could pop these cute Easter themed muffin top-pers on top…

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