22 déc. 2014

Peppermint Bark Cookies

This is something for visiting children over Christmas. but I'm sure adults would like them too!

I've made peppermint bark for several years, but recently, looking on Pinterest, I saw that you could make cookies with a bark topping. I had to try these, as I wanted to take something for my grandchildren when we visited them yesterday.

I decided to make a shortbread type dough.


Preheat oven 180C/gas4 and grease a Swiss roll tin and line with a strip of parchment paper down the middle, leaving the ends overhanging to get the cookie out of the tin.

Beat 220g butter till creamy and white, then gradually beat in 200g of caster sugar. Keep beating till it's nice and fluffy. Add 1 tspn vanilla extract and a large egg yolk and beat in. Add 240g plain flour plus a pinch of salt and slowly add to the batter till blended.

I found it easier to drop spoonfuls of this into the tin as it's a stiff mixture, then using my fingertips I pressed the dough into the tin to make a layer. Prick all over with a fork.
Bake till light golden, about 30 mins.

While base is warm and still in the tin, spread over 175g of melted dark chocolate, then top with 6 - 8 chopped up candy canes. Cool.

Melt 60g white chocolate carefully and drizzle this over the chopped candy. Chill for 30 mins till the chocolate is set.

Use the parchment paper to get the cookie out of the tin, then cut into pieces.


Not a very clear photo - sorry. Only had the one on my phone to use.

My grandchildren loved them and I put them in cellophane bags with a pretty ribbon, so they looked very festive.
They are of course, sweet, but I like the biscuit layer underneath as a contrast to the sweet topping. Will certainly make them again next year.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.











17 déc. 2014

Choccamocca Cheesecake

Couldn't think of a good name for this cheesecake, but as it has chocolate and coffee in it I thought this name would do. It's my normal cheesecake, but with an added something. It's a rich cheesecake, just right for an occasion, so am going to make another for Boxing Day.
 It's for those who love dark chocolate and coffee.
You need a 23cm springform tin. Preheat oven to oven 160C/gas3


Make sure that the cream cheese and eggs are at room temperature.


Put 200g of chocolate digestive biscuits in a bag and crush with a rolling pin [or use a food processor].
Add 125g plus 2 tbspns of melted butter and 1/2 tspn almond essence and mix together. Press this firmly into the bottom of the tin. Put in the fridge to set.

In a bowl mix together 140g granulated sugar and 1 tspn of espresso or any other strong coffee granules [more if you want a strong coffee flavour].

Melt 250g of 70% dark chocolate and 125g of 50% dark chocolate [or milk if you prefer] in the microwave or over simmering water.

In a mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat 4 x 250g packs of cream cheese [such as Philly] together till smooth. Carefully and slowly add the melted chocolate keeping the mixer on a low speed. Pour in the sugar mixture slowly and then 3 tbspn of double cream and mix till well blended.

Again at a low speed, add 3 large eggs, one at a time and 1 tspn vanilla extract.

Pour this batter over the crumb base in the tin and bake in the oven for about 40-50 mins.Take it out when the surface of the cheesecake looks dry, but it still has a bit of a wobble. Don't overbake it.

Leave it to cool in a warmish place and leave it there for about an hour before moving to somewhere cooler to cool completely.
When it's cool, leave it overnight in the fridge to set. Before you remove it from the tin, it's a good idea to run a thin spatula around the inside to loosen it.

You can decorate the top with some chocolate curls made using a potato peeler. I used some milk chocolate - about 100g.






As I said earlier, this is a rich cheesecake, so it will feed quite a lot of people. I like the base made with chocolate digestives instead of plain ones - it doesn't really add much more chocolate flavour, but looks quite good.




6 déc. 2014

Coconut Lemon Traybake



I needed a simple recipe to use up some lemons I bought, and found many versions of this uncooked tray bake [I suppose it's not really a tray bake as it's not baked, but it's made in my Delia tray bake tin!]. I played around with several recipes till I made exactly what I wanted - a good lemony flavoured  slice with a decent amount of coconut and a lemon icing. It was perfect to make with my grandsons over the w/e.

You put 125ml of condensed milk in a pan with 125g butter and stir till the butter has melted. In a food processor or using a plastic bag and a rolling pin, break a 250g packet of Nice biscuits into crumbs and put into a bowl with 1 tspn of grated lemon zest, 1 tspn lemon extract and 85g dessicated coconut. Add the butter mixture and stir together till well mixed.
Line a baking tin 28x18cm with parchment paper and press the mixture in. Put in the fridge for about an hour.
Make the icing - 250g icing sugar, 3 tbspn lemon juice and 15g butter - beat together to make a smooth icing. When the slice is firm and cool, pour icing on top, spread evenly then sprinkle 2 tbspn dessicated coconut on top. Cut into squares when the icing has set.
Keep in fridge.



A nice treat - some crunch from the biscuits and a lovely soft filling with a good lemon flavour. Then a contrast with the sweet icing and coconut. 

25 nov. 2014

Green Tea Financiers

I love financiers - the little French almond flavoured cakes that look like little bricks. I wondered where they got their name, so after a bit of googling it seems that they were first made in the 19th century by a Parisian pastry chef near the Parisian stock exchange, and he made them look like little gold ingots. They became popular with the financiers, hence their name. Maybe this is the true story, or maybe not? Anyway we love them. I wanted to try a different flavour, and found this idea of using green tea on a French web site - they used it in muffins, so I thought I'd try it in financiers. The recipe makes about 24 cakes, but I only made half the mixture.

200g butter
200g icing sugar
6 egg whites
80g ground almonds
80g flour
2 level tspns of tea [I used green tea but other flavours could be used]
butter for the moulds


But butter in a solid based pan and bring slowly to the boil then cook gently on a low heat till nut brown [beurre noisette]. Take off the heat and filter the butter through a fine sieve.
Beat the egg whites till frothy then add the icing sugar a little at a time. Mix the ground almonds and flour together and fold into the mixture with the tea. Mix together well. Add the butter and stir continuously till well mixed.
Put covered batter into fridge for a couple of hours.
When ready to use, preheat oven 220C/gas 8 and butter a 2x12 hole financiers or muffin tins.
Fill the holes 2/3 full then bake for 5 mins, turn temperature down to 200C/gas 6 and bake for further 10 mins. Cool in the tins.



I know they're not very inspiring to look at, but they taste really good. They have a crisp outside and a soft middle, and a the ground almonds give them a fairly dense texture. The green tea gives a subtle flavour, but you can still taste the caramelised butter.
Financiers don't keep well, so need to be eaten on the day they're made - no hardship!
A few tips from my neighbour - watch the butter when heating as it quickly burns, mix the batter as little as possible - just stir till blended. and rest the batter in the fridge before using.
You can keep the batter in the fridge, covered, for a couple of days.

21 nov. 2014

Cheese and Leek Tart

Thought I'd do a savoury post for a change. Bought a bag of leeks cheaply in our local market, so decided to make a tart. I used creme fraiche as I had some left over in the fridge and I made it in a 20cm loose-bottomed flan tin; it was plenty for 2 of us, with seconds for OH.

For the sc pastry, 110g flour, 25g lard, 25g butter or margarine, 1 tbspn water. Am not going to insult you by telling you how to make pastry! Chill pastry for 30 mins then bake blind - 15mins at 180C/gas4, take out beans or rice etc then bake for 5 mins more at reduced temperature 160C/gas3.

Filling : about 200g leeks [2 medium sized], 2eggs, 200ml creme fraiche or double cream, 1 dspn chopped thyme, 80g grated strong Cheddar cheese, about 25g butter

Melt butter in a sauté pan, or any pan with a lid, Add the finely sliced leeks, cover and cook till they're soft [about 5 mins] then season them. Beat the eggs, then add the creme fraiche and thyme and beat together.
Put the leeks into the bottom of pastry case, then spoon the egg mixture over. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Heat a baking sheet in the oven, then bake the tart on this to prevent a soggy bottom!
Bake for 45mins or till the filling is set and the cheese is lovely and golden.


It made a nice supper with some salad and a jacket potato. You need a cheese with a good flavour or the tart would be rather bland, as there's not a lot of flavour from the leeks. Think I'd add more herbs to the egg mixture when I make it again. I could have added the leeks to the egg mixture, but wanted the leeks on the bottom so there were distinct layers. It was very tasty.




15 nov. 2014

Cider Cake

Thought we'd have a change from chocolate cakes, so decided to make a traditional cider cake from Herefordshire. Doing a bit of research about cider cakes I found that this cake was baked for the annual Cider festival. Several other counties make cider, so I expect they have their own versions of the cake.Some friends brought us some local cider they'd bought there, so made use of some of it in this cake. It's a simple cake, easy to make. You could vary the spices to suit your taste, and I suppose that the type of cider you used would make a difference to the flavour.

preheat oven 180C/gas4
grease a 20 or 21cm square cake tin and line the bottom.

Cream together 125g butter and 125g caster sugar till nice and fluffy. Add 2 beaten eggs and mix well. Sift 225g sr flour with 1 tspn bicarb, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1/2 tspn ginger. Fold some of the flour into the batter then add 200ml cider. Mix together well. Fold in rest of flour and spoon into tin. Bake for 35-40 mins till golden.
Cool in tin, turn out onto a wire rack and sprinkle with some caster sugar.





Lovely moist, light texture and a good cider/apple taste, with the spices adding an extra layer of flavour. The inside of the cake was speckled - maybe the reaction between the cider and the bicarb? Anyone a food scientist?!!







8 nov. 2014

Magic Chocolate Cake

I've seen various recipes and flavours for this so-called 'magic cake' on several blogs and in a woman's magazine. I liked the idea of trying a chocolate one , but I can't honestly say where the original recipe comes from, as all the blogs I looked at referred back to a different blog! I think the original idea came from  this Spanish blog .

Why is it magic, well you have one very runny batter, and when it's cooked you have a 3 layer cake. The middle layer is really a chocolate custard. The mixture is so runny that I thought I'd forgotten an ingredient [it's like a pancake batter], but having checked the various recipes, I hadn't. It's the top and bottom layers that hold the middle custard together.
Well it's something different to try!

You need:

4 eggs at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 tbspn water
125g butter
70g flour
45g cocoa
pinch salt
500ml full fat milk
few drops lemon juice

Preheat oven 160C/gas3
Grease a round 20/22 cm cake tin.
Melt the butter over simmering water or in a microwave and keep warm. Warm the milk.
Separate the eggs and beat the yolks, sugar and water for a few mins. Add the warm butter and carry on beating.
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together and add to the batter, beating all the time.
Add the warm milk and beat well.
Wash and dry your beaters then whisk the egg whites and a few drops of lemon juice till firm. Add a spoonful to the batter and beat in, then fold in the rest carefully, a little at a time, using a spatula.
Spoon into the tin and bake for about 50 mins.
The middle will wobble [jiggle someone called it] a bit, and it will stay like this even when cold.
Leave the cake to cool before taking out of the tin. Sprinkle with some cocoa and keep in the fridge.


You can just about see 3 layers in the photo - the bottom layer is very thin, then you have the middle custard-type layer and a cakey top layer.
It's not too sweet and it melts in your mouth. One of the blogs said that the magic was when you bite into it - not sure if I agree with this, but it is a different sort of cake.
A few tips from people on the various blogs - if you use a stand mixer, beat the milk in by hand or the mixture splatters everywhere! The egg whites can look curdled when you've mixed them in, so just make sure that you've not left any big chunks.
Not an easy cake to get out of the tin - can crack easily.
One person just put all the mixture in a blender, but her cake looked like a custard tart, so maybe not a good idea!
If you're not put off by all these comments, it's an interesting cake to try. Oh, last thing, you need to keep it in the fridge!