Thursday, 28 February 2013

My Favourite Shortbread Recipe..

This is one of those recipes which I visit time and time again.... Yes, Delia's Smith's Shortbread!  So simple to get right and with a little creativity, anything can be added to these.  I made two batches - a version with some chopped almonds and the bars which were a hazelnut and cranberry variety.  The semolina in this recipe also adds that lovely crunch and gives them more of a surprise texture, rather some of the shop bought ones which are a little too smooth for my liking.  
Straight out of the oven and a dredge of caster sugar sprinkled on top!
I find that the tart tins are just perfect for these and why not have a go with a regular cake tin with removable base.  I use both for baking these shortbread.  

Shortbread with finely chopped almonds baked in a removable base cake tin. Simple! :-) 

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Black Forest Pavlova

One of my all time favourites - black forest gateau and what better way to recreate this.  I recently found this yum recipe on pinterest and had to give it a go.  I am not usually a fan of meringues and often find them a little too sweet but this combination with the tartness of the cherries and the espresso flavoured cream is a real winner!!  Well, this recipe made a huge pavlova which could easily cater for 12-15 people, so when there were only 7 of us to share this between, we were definitely going up for seconds! 


8 egg whites
500g granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

500ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons espresso coffee
1 tin of morello cherries
100g roughly chopped walnuts
250g chocolate (milk or dark) shaved/grated

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C
1.Line greaseproof paper onto 2 baking sheets or, if you have the silicone mats, these are much easier to work with.
2.  Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they are almost stiff and gradually add the sugar.  Keep mixing until they are stiff.  The best way to test this is to the hold the bowl upside down!
3. Carefully add the cocoa powder and using a metal spoon, gently fold through to create a streaky effect.

 4. Add the meringue to the 2 baking sheets and roughly keep them to 25cm round circles.

5.  Turn the tempertaure of the oven down to 120degrees C and place the meringues to the oven.  Bake for 90 minutes and turn off the heat.  Keep the meringues in the oven until they have completely cooled.  They should now be firm.  Carefully remove from the baking sheets.

The topping and assembly -  
1.  Drain the cherries keeping the juicy syrup.  On a low heat, heat the syrup until it has thickened. Set this aside.
2.  Whip the cream until it has thickened.  Add the espresso and incorporate.  
3.  Carefully spread half of the cream onto the base layer of meringue.  Add 50g walnuts and half of the cherries.  Sprinkle over 125g chocolate.
4.  Place top layer of meringue on top and repeat the process.  Drizzle the cherry syrup over the pavlova.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Cheese Black Pepper Heart Biscuits

Now for my real weakness..... Savoury snacks and nibbles.  Once I start, I can't stop.  These quick little snacks went down very nicely but it was just an after thought about how great they would be with little toppings for a perfect party appetizer, or perhaps with a dollop of chutney at the end.
Once again, little Maya got stuck right in and was helping with the rolling and cutting.  It was such great fun for her and I on the otherhand felt quite pleased that she was not trying to pinch any, as she would have done had they been of the sweet variety!!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Vanilla Fudge Recipe

In search for a great fudge recipe, this one definitely hit the spot on all fronts.   The creaminess and smooth texture was definitely a winner.  I have tried many which use condensed milk but this traditional recipe was well worth the effort.  Yes, it will take a good thirty to forty minutes of continuous stirring but the results are divine!  It will also keep fresh for around a week in an airtight container, should that be an issue!

So, it all start off with the following ingredients -
(Makes 24 pieces)

350g granulated sugar
100g butter
250ml whole milk
50ml double cream
2 tspn vanilla extract or your choice of flavouring

You will need a candy thermometer for this and I used a 8" cake tin, but a tray will do an equally as good job, dependent on the thickness you require.

Line and grease your tin/tray with greaseproof paper.
Add the milk, cream, butter and sugar to a large saucepan and begin to heat slowly.  You will need to keep stirring this continuously.  Keep going (!) until the mixture comes to the boil.  Do not be tempted to turn up the heat.  It is important the temperature remains steady and all the ingredients are dissolved and well incorporated.  The temperature will need to reach 120C.  This will take around 30-35 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence.  Keep stirring for another 5 minutes.  The mixture should be velvety smooth by this stage.

Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth over the top.  Do not refrigerate, leave to cool completely before cutting into squares.