Chocolate Macarons

wpid-wp-1420535635406.jpegBoth my cousin and I love baking, so on a recent visit we decided to attempt macarons. She had never had much success with them and I could also do with some practice. Despite the fact that we learned the importance of the bicarb, our somewhat sad looking macarons tasted heavenly! DSC_7540small

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 90 g almond powder, sifted
  • 100 g Castor sugar
  • 10 g high quality cocoa powder
  • Pinch of Bicarbonate Soda
  • 2 egg whites
  • 50 g Castor Sugar

Filling

  • 55 g butter, room temperature
  • 100 g icing sugar
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20 g dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract

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Method

Macarons

  1. Prepare your baking tray. Line it with baking paper and spray it with non-stick spray.
  2. Sift together the almond meal, cocoa powder and icing sugar, at least twice.
  3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then add the Bicarbonate soda and castor sugar.
  4. Beat until hard peaks form and then gently fold in the almond meal and icing sugar mixture as well as your flavouring and colourant.
  5. Pipe out a few round macaron shells on your prepared tray. Try spacing it equally and to stick to one size. We pencilled out some circles on the other side of the paper which made it easier.
  6. Give the baking tray a gentle whack on the kitchen counter underneath all rows of macarons.
  7. Set the oven to 160C and leave the macarons outside whilst the oven preheats, for about half an hour.
  8. Bake for 6 min on one side and turn around before baking for another 6 min on the other side.
  9. Place on wire rack to cool before filling it.

Filling:

  1. Beat the butter, icing sugar and cocoa powder together.
  2. Add the eggs one by one.
  3. Melt the chocolate and add it to the mixture.
  4. Beat until it becomes light and fuffy.
  5. Finally, assemble your macaron shells by piping a fair amount of icing on one side of the macaron. There should be more than enough to go around and have a few taste testers!
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Choc-Caramel Shortbread Recipe

chocolate caramel shortbread biscuits

I love a good tea-time biscuit and this one is particularly decadent. There isn’t much I can say about the taste other than WOW! Imagine a good shortbread biscuit enrobed in chocolate meeting a delicious helping of fudgy-caramel. ‘Nuff said!

I wouldn’t say it is ideal for everyday simply because of the butter and sugar content, but boy I wouldn’t mind having it on the daily otherwise! Whilst only twelve biscuits does sound like very little, I can promise that you only need one at a time to satisfy even the most severe sweet tooth (which would be me!). This would be ideal for a high-tea or when you simply want to treat yourself.

DSC_0128Ingredients:

Biscuit:

  • 250 g butter, softened
  • 160 g castor sugar
  • 300 g flour
  • 150 g cornflour
  • 300 g chocolate, melted

Caramel:

  • 1 x 385 g tin condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 60 g butter

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Method:

To make the shortbread:

  1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Fold in the flour and cornflour and roll into a 6 cm sausage.
  3. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Here you can learn from my mistake. Be patient or you won’t get perfectly round biscuits!
  4. Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
  5. Slice the sausage into 4 mm-thick slices and place slices on a lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 – 15 min and set aside to cool.

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Caramel:

  1. In a medium, thick bottomed pot simmer the condensed milk, syrup and butter gently for about 5 min or caramel coloured. Remember to stir all the time.

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Assembly:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl and dip each biscuit halfway in the chocolate before placing on a tray to set.
  2. Once set, sandwich two together with the caramel and enjoy.

Makes roughly 12 biscuits.

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Chocolate & Almond Biscotti Recipe

DSC_1359If you follow this blog regularly, you’ll have noticed that I reserve a special place in my heart (in my stomach) for Italian cuisine. Naturally Biscotti, something between a rusk and a biscuit, is one of my favourite treats. This is the ultimate indulgent snack for winter. It is sweet, filling and ideal for dipping into coffee. The best part is how easy it is to make as you literally just throw it all together and mix before baking. 
DSC_1363aIngredients:

  • 100 g almonds, diced
  • 100 g milk chocolate chips or diced milk chocolate slab
  • 430 g flour
  • 15 ml baking powder
  • 300 g castor sugar
  • 5 ml cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 45 ml butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C and prepare a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift together all the dry ingredients and add the almonds and chocolate.
  3. Beat the eggs and butter in a separate bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until it forms a big piece of dough
  4. Divide into two pieces and press and roll it out into two long ‘french loaf’-type shapes.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and leave to cool completely.
  6. Slice thin slices of biscotti (approximately 5 mm) with a sharp knife.
  7. Spread out on baking tray and bake for a further 20 minutes or until crispy at 60C.
  8. Let it cool and serve with coffee.

 

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Pasteis de nata

Text overlayI love a good flaky milk tart so it should come as no surprise that these Portuguese custard tarts have a special place in my heart. There is no better reward after biting through the flaky butter pastry than the rich, creamy custard filling. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water! Traditionally you do need to use a cook’s blowtorch to caramelise the icing sugar but I’ve managed to get away with the oven grill.

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Ingredients:

  • 200g all butter puff pastry
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • 300ml full cream milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C and prepare a small muffin case with spray and cook.
  2. Roll out the puff pastry according to packet instructions and cut twelve circles slightly larger than the muffin base. Do allow for some shrinkage. Carefully place each cutout in the pan.
  3. Line with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes with baking beans or rice if you don’t have any.
  4. Remove the baking beans and paper and bake the cases for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks, caster sugar, flour and vanilla extract together in a heat proof bowl.
  6. Bring the milk to the boil and then whisk it into the egg mixture. Pour it back into the pot and bring to the boil whilst whisking.
  7. Remove it from the heat once it starts boiling and pour into a cool bowl. Dot with butter and allow to cool.
  8. Once cooled, mix well and spoon the mixture into the pastry cases. Dust with icing sugar and then  caramelise the tops with a cook’s blowtorch or grill in the oven (keep a watchful eye on your precious bites as they burn easily).
  9. Devour once the custard has cooled to avoid burning the roof of your mouth.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

1I love chocolate chip cookies, but it’s pretty difficult to find some store bought ones that are perfect. I hate it when it tastes of margarine or isn’t crispy enough. Seeing as they don’t stock FOX biscuits in SA anymore (their choc chip is the best), I decided to try and recreate them. I was slightly disappointed in Woolworths’ ‘Chocolate chips’ (as they clearly took the name a bit literally), but they were still satisfactory. I just prefer larger chunks of chocolate, so next time I’ll hunt down the real thing.

3Ingredients:

  • 1 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (dark & milk)

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C and prepare a baking sheet with baking paper and Spray & Cook.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the egg and mix it in.
  4. Combine the flour,choc chips and butter mixture in an electric mixer or rub it in.
  5. Once it resembles wet sea sand, start compressing it into a ball.
  6. Divide into equal sized balls and press flat in the palm of you hands and arrange on baking tray.
  7. Bake for about 15 min or until golden brown before letting cool on a wire rack.

4Makes about 20 cookies.

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Dutch Baby

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As far as food trends go I generally gravitate towards the sweeter ones. Luckily this is also a fool proof recipe. The best way to describe Dutch Babies would be as a cross between a crepe and an omelet as they’re super light and airy yet filling. It is ideal for a winter brunch served with loads of berries and lemon peel.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 flour, sifted
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 2 tbs butter
  • icing sugar, for dusting

100_8119Method:

  1. Preheat an over proof pan or cast iron skillet in the oven to 220C.
  2. Whisk eggs in a large bowl and stir in the milk.
  3. Gradually whisk in the flour and cinnamon.
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven and melt butter. Spread with a brush all over.
  5. Pour batter in the skillet whilst still hot and return to the oven.
  6. Bake for approximately 10 min or until golden and puffed.
  7.  Remove from the oven, dust with icing and serve piping hot. Enjoy quickly!

 

 

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Mock Crayfish Appetizer

100_7473This can be either an appetizer or light summer snack depending on how much you serve. Crayfish is one of my favourite seafoods but it can be really expensive due to South Africa’s restrictive fishing laws, so this is a much more cost effective alternative using smoked haddock. The seafood mayonnaise and colour definitely adds to its association with crayfish, but the smokey flavour elevates it.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Frozen Smoked Haddock fillets
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 tbs Butter
  • 4 tbs Mayonnaise (tangy ones work very well)
  • 2 tbs Tomato sauce
  • Pepper
  • Butter Lettuce

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Steps:

  1. Place  the smoked haddock on a piece of tin foil with a squeeze of lemon and the knobs of butter and seal the foil.
  2. Bake it in the oven on 180*C for 20 minutes before removing and allowing to cool.
  3. Mix the mayonnaise, tomato sauce and a teaspoon of lemon juice to create a seafood mayonnaise. Add more sauce if needed.
  4. Remove the skin and flock the haddock before mixing it in with the sauce.
  5. Serve on a bed of butter lettuce and finish with a crackle of black pepper.

Makes 4 small servings.

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Rosewater Turkish Delight Recipe

100_8186textTurkish Delight really is one of the easiest sweet treats to make-if you can boil water and measure ingredients you really can’t fail. It can also make an incredibly nice hostess gift and if you’re feeling extra indulgent why not cover a few pieces in chocolate? Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 500 ml sugar
  • 75 ml cornstarch
  • 200 ml water
  • 40 ml granulated gelatine
  • 50 ml warm water
  • Pink/Red dye (I used liquid)
  • 3 tbs Rosewater
  • Spray and Cook
  • 3 tbs icing sugar
  • 1 tbs cornstarch

100_8185Method:

  1. Add the cornflour and sugar to 200 ml boiling water and stir until all the sugar evaporates.
  2. Dissolve the gelatine powder in 50 ml hot, but not boiling, water and add to the sugar mixture and stir it in.
  3. Add the rosewater and a few drops of colouring (aim for a medium pink shade).
  4. Spray a heat proof tin/casserole approximately 16 x 16 cm with the spray and cook before pouring in the mixture.
  5. Leave to cool before placing in fridge for 4-6 hours until completely set.
  6. Once set use a smooth sharp knife to cut the turkish delight into equal pieces. Dip the knife into boiling water to make it easier.
  7. Mix the icing and cornflour together in a plastic container with a lid.
  8. To loosen the turkish delight place the container in warm water for a few seconds. The edges will start to melt making it easy to lift out. Place immediately into the icing sugar and close the lid and shake until it is completely covered.
  9. Store it in the fridge.
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Quick and Easy Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Valentine's day muesli breakfastAs Valentine’s day falls on a weekday this year, I thought sharing a quick and easy breakfast to make for your valentine would be ideal. Besides the quicker you’re in the kitchen, the more time you have for thank yous! Nothing beats a pretty muesli stack as its healthy, filling, quick and easy to prepare and can be very pretty. Presentation is key!

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Ingredients:

  • Muesli
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Fresh Berries (or other seasonal fruit)
  • Honey, for serving

Start with a yogurt layer in a clear glass and then alternate with muesli, finishing with muesli and top with fresh berries and a little bit of honey.

Serve with coffee, fresh fruit and your Valentine’s card (or my printable postcards)!

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The Best French Toast

the best french toast 1 Note that this reads ‘the best’ and not the ‘healthiest’, so this is definitely not for diet days. I know how you take your french toast can be just as personal as how you take your coffee, but in all seriousness I honestly believe that this is the best french toast as it is the closest I have gotten to making doughnuts (excluding fonuts). It is just as crispy and sweet with a similar texture. The cinnamon sugar might also play a minor role in this, but I’ll put it down to my awesome baking skills (not a shred of modesty). The best part of this is that you can disguise it as a breakfast (albeit not a healthy one)!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 3 tbs oil, for frying
  • toweling paper
  • cinnamon sugar
  • syrup
  • berries, for servingthe best french toast 3

Methode:

  1. Choosing the right ingredients is key to making this. Start with bread that isn’t too fresh. ‘Toaster’ bread generally works best. I’ve found that fresh bread just absorbs too much egg and oil in the frying process. Harder bread will deliver a crispier toast.
  2. Heat a tbs oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Break the eggs in a shallow bowl (I use a soup bowl) and whisk.
  4. When the oil is hot, quickly dip both sides of a slice bread in the egg until completely covered. Don’t leave it soak as it will absorb to much egg and become soggy. Place in the pan. It’s best to do it one at a time to ensure that it doesn’t get crowded.
  5. Flip halfway through the frying and continue flipping sides until both are golden brown and crispy.
  6. Place on toweling paper to absorb extra oil.
  7. Repeat with the other slices.
  8. It is essential to serve with either cinamon sugar or syrup. I prefer a little bit of both!
  9. Slightly sour berries are the perfect accompaniment to this sweet dish.

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Makes 3 french toasts (Depending on egg sizes, you might be able to make 4)

Please share your ideas on what makes the best french toast, I’d love to know! Mine is definitely geared towards the sweet tooth.

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