Wednesday, 30 January 2013

BURNT TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI

Try saying that fast. I suppose I could have called these ‘Miner’s Biscotti’, the biscuit version of my Miner's Flapjack, but the two words don’t really fit together. Instead, they’re this because of the deep cinder toffee flavour you get, complimented with the dark chocolate. It’s a nice change from the usual addition of nuts in biscotti’s, whilst still having the crunch when the cinder toffee cools and solidifies after it turns into molten pools in the oven. This blog is doing nothing to convince people I’m not obsessed with cinder toffee (honeycomb), but it really is one the coolest things you’ll ever make!

For the cinder toffee
50g sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the biscotti
200g flour
200g sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
50g dark chocolate, chopped into chips
3 eggs 

Makes 15

Preheat oven 160fan/180c/4.
 Begin by making the cinder toffee. Mix the golden syrup and sugar in a small pan, bring to boil and cook for around 1-2 minutes. You don’t want it too dark because it cooks further in the oven. Take off the heat and whisk in the bicarb, don’t be alarmed by the growing foam substance, this will make the air pockets in the cinder toffee. Quickly pour this mixture onto a baking sheet and leave to stand until it hardens, this can take around 5 minutes. I usually pop it into the fridge for 5 minutes as well to properly harden.

 In the meantime line another baking tray with greaseproof or baking parchment and lightly grease it. Mx the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder. Stir together until all the mixture in a light brown, then mix in the chocolate chips. Lightly beat each egg before adding to the dry mixture one by one until a rough dough forms when mixed in. Break the honeycomb into pieces the size of the chocolate chips and lay on a surface. Kneed the dough into the honeycomb, making sure its equal distributed.

Divide the dough in two and shape each into a long, but reasonably thick sausage. At this point it does not look attractive, but on the flipside it smells great. Put each onto the baking tray spaced about 10cm apart as they will flatten and expand then bake for 25 minutes, but after 10 lay a piece of baking paper over the tray to stop the honeycomb from scorching.

Remove from oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife diagonally into biscuits. Transfer onto a new, or two new baking trays lined with greaseproof and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, once again covered completely with baking paper. Once baked the biscotti’s will be firm but if there is a slight give this will go when left to cool completely on a baking tray, leaving you with a super crisp biscotti. Enjoy with a cup of tea.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

HEALTHY PIE NESTS WITH APPLE, GINGER AND LIME

Thought I’d do something a little bit lighter for people doing a cleaner January. I wanted to make something really fresh and lively, which might not be what people want as the snow piles it down, but just pretend you’re eating them on a beach. You might have noticed the word ‘pie’ in the title, and this comes in the form of grated sweet short-crust pastry. That might not sound light, but it is a really tiny amount and what’s good about it is that I made it from the off cuts of a pastry that I hadn’t used in previous recipes and then frozen. Never throw them bits away!

2 limes
A thumb size piece of root ginger
3tbsp sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 apples
125g sweet short crust pastry

Makes 6

Preheat oven to fan160/180c/4.
Well grease a 6 holed muffin tin.

Add the zest and juice from each lime to a small saucepan. Grate in the ginger and add the sugar then bring to boil for 5 minutes or so until the liquid begins to turn syrupy. At this stage add the poppy seeds and remove from the heat. Grate the apples and try to do this in long strokes so that you have long strips. I found a box grater worked best for this. With some kitchen paper, squeeze out any excess liquid from the apples then as soon as possible add to the pan and coat in the syrup as the acidity will stop the apples from browning. Mix together well then grate in the pastry, again trying to get long strips. At this stage, stir the pastry in gently as you don’t want to mush it up.

Spoon blobs of the mixture into the muffin tin then make a little dent in the centre of each, like a nest had. Sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes then lay a piece of baking paper over the tin and leave for a further 25 minutes. Once baked remove from tin and serve with ice-cream or Greek yogurt (to maintain the healthier theme).

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

BUTTER TABLET

One of my favourite ever confections, but I actually made it by accident. It was a good accident however, and one I can repeat so here it is. Butter tablet is like hard, crumbly fudge which is almost short in texture, but indescribably rich in flavour.

400g golden, unrefined sugar (Demerara)
150ml milk
55g butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by slightly heating the sugar in a pan for a couple of minutes on a low heat, not so it begins to melt, just to warm the grains through. Add the milk and butter and stir with a wooden spoon until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved. Boil on a slightly higher heat for around 10 minutes, stirring continuously, making sure it does not stick to side of pan. After 10 minutes, take off heat add the vanilla extract and beat rigorously until the mixture thickens and begins to go grainy almost against the spoon. Pour onto the baking paper and press down, with the paper, into a block. Leave to cool and harden then cut into rough chunks. Parts of the butter tablet will crumble away, but these bits are equally as good.







Wednesday, 9 January 2013

CUP OF TEA PUDDINGS

Enjoying a cup of tea each day is a British tradition. I wanted to make something which takes in all components of this staple, from how it’s made to how it tastes. The fact that the pudding is steamed even goes as far to emulate the all important first stage of boiling the kettle. The pudding itself is dense and the flavour is rich, just like a good cup of tea should be.

4 English tea bags, I like to use Rington’s or Yorkshire Tea
150g sugar
150g butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
175g flour

Makes 4

Begin by infusing the tea bags in a mug boiling water, around 250mls. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then alternate beating in the eggs and adding the flour until you have a thick batter. Add the tea mixture to the batter, squeezing each bag dry with a spoon to get the density of flavour, and then mix well.

Transfer the mixture into 4 mini plastic pudding bowls which has been wrapped in tin foil on the outside.Alternatively you could steam them in tea cups or mugs. Cover the top of the bowls /cups with tin foil and secure with an elastic band. Place into a pan used for steaming or alternatively a deep pan filled around a third of the way up with boiling water, using an upside down bowl above the water level for the puddings to stand on. Cover with a lid and steam for 1 hour on a low heat, topping up when necessary.

The puddings are cooked when they feel firm to touch. If plastic bowls were used you could then serve the pudding inside a cup before turning out onto a small plate and serving with cream; a dessert alternative to a good cream tea.