Monday, July 30, 2012

15 Minute Fudge

Ok this may take from 15-25 minutes depending on your hob/ saucepan but all in all this is real fudge fast! I have been to a number of fudge making facilities, including one in Amish country Pennsylvania and I have the greatest respect for their intricate and painstaking methods that produce delicious and timeless fudge. Thing is - I don't have a steel kettle over a fire or a giant slab of marble to work with and sometimes even a busy girl with a tiny kitchen needs fudge! So a few years ago I started working on a recipe for fast fudge. Like any novice fudge maker I started with a traditional recipe that my mum gave me. This recipe called for large quantities of butter, sugar and evaporated milk. I stood and stirred and stood and stirred and stirred and stirred and waited and waited and eventually ended up with more fudge than I could ever eat or share. Don't get me wrong the fudge was delicious but hardly worth all that stirring. So I worked on changing the recipe and after much trial and error (emphasis on the error) I finally discovered a method that produces a fast fudge with the perfect combination of smoothness and texture.

Simultaneously smooth and textured

There are a few points that need to be gotten out of the way straight off the bat. Firstly the key to great fudge is temperature so you NEED a sugar thermometer!! I spent years making fudge without a thermometer and it works but it's pure hit and miss. Secondly it's not essential but it's better if you have a heavy based saucepan as this will reduce the amount of brown bits in the fudge and reduce the likelihood of burning.  Finally my recipe uses condensed milk instead of evaporated, but I then add water, this makes no sense right?! Well in my experience fudge needs to boil, so it needs something to boil off. Condensed milk has less water, and some sugar has already been dissolved into it, therefore this way I control the amount of water to ensure the all important boiling but reduce the overall cooking time.

15 Minute Fudge

1 x 375g Can of Condensed Milk
300g Brown Caster Sugar
100g Butter (diced)
100ml warm water
1.5 tsp vanilla

Add all the ingredients accept the vanilla into a heavy based saucepan and turn the heat on low. Stir continuously until all the butter has melted. Then insert the sugar thermometer  and start to increase the heat under the saucepan very gradually, stirring continuously (I cannot emphasis this enough - turn on the radio, put your phone beside you and get someone to watch the baby because you will be standing beside this saucepan for the next 10-15 minutes or else your fudge will be burnt).

Once the temperature hits 115C (the soft ball stage) remove from the heat. Give the fudge a minute or two to cool before adding the vanilla extract. Then stir the fudge vigorously as it starts to cool and thicken. Just as the mixture starts to appear duller pour it into a pre-lined tin and then leave it cool. Once cool cut it into bite-sized squares and enjoy =)

A tower of vanilla-y decadent deliciousness

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brown Bear Cupcakes

It has been a while since I have actually eaten chocolate, 12 days precisely. Therefore I must eat vicariously through my blog. A few weeks ago I wanted to make a cupcake for the Dr Oetker Cupcake competition. I slightly mis-interpreted the aims of the competition but I am still happy with what I achieved, so this is what I achieved using Dr Oetker products only, btw this is not sponsored or anything like that (I wish, right?) but it needed to be mentioned since the parameters were relevant to the process.

Brown Bear Cupcakes
These might better be described as snack-cakes. They are half-way between a cupcake and a brownie and they were inspired by my sweet and wonderful bf who was completely obsessed with the Bears in Berlin (Dr Oetker german connection, get it?!) and you likes chocolate but also likes to be able to have more than one without feeling greedy. Therefore these are smaller than normal cupcakes and lighter than normal brownies. However they do have a little fudge center, kinda - remember the parameters but they turned out more like little fudge chips, that were amazing delicious!!

Brown Bear Cupcakes

125g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
50ml yoghurt
1 whole Egg
2 Egg Yolks
200g Plain white cake flour
75g Cocao Powder
1 teaspoon Baking powder
20ml espresso
150g dark chocolate chips
100g mini fudge pieces

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Beat together your butter and Sugar until light and fluffy. In seperate bowls sieve your dry ingredients together, adding the chocolate chips after sieving, and beat together your eggs, yoghurt and coffee. Then add the wet and dry ingredients and mix only enough to combine, the muffin method if you will.

Line your muffin tin with cupcake liners and spoon in your mixture. These cakes are designed to be snack cakes so only spoon in 1 tablespoon of mixture to each. Then place 4-5 fudge pieces into the center of each mixture and cover these with the mixture as shown below.

Bake for15-20 minutes or until a toothpick (NB - placed in the side) comes out clean. Turn them out to cool on a wire wrack. What you now have are delicious little brownie 2 bite cupcakes with a fudgie center and my bf says they are really good just as they are but I'm a perfectionist I need to decorate them.

To decorate these I used a range of Dr Oetker products including their easy swirl icing canister, silver simmer spray and golden balls. However to make them my own I also had to include this little wooden looking bear stamp.I made circles from fondant and stamped them with a bear stamp we bought in germany last Christmas. I let them dry and then, using a course brush, painted them with brown food colouring gel and water mixed. They came out quite well I think and added an interesting little touch. I would recommend you try this recipe and decorate whatever way you like. Enjoy.

One has been stolen already, trust me they go fast!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mocha-rons - Mocha macarons with an obnoxious name

You know it's summer when my house is full of macarons. I enjoy this delicious treat at any time of the year but the combination of sweetness and light texture feels just perfect during the sometimes hot but always humid days of summer. So you can expect many more posts of a similar nature, including hopefully one with the wonderful and hilarious decidedlydelicious.

As an affirmation of my ability to control things in my life, even in the smallest way possible, I have given up chocolate for a month, it's a good thing that I don't tweet because all it would say is 'chocolate, chocolate, want chocolate,' at the moment. Before starting this ridiculous and masochistic journey I did however enjoy quite the final hoorah and these were a part of that.

I wanted to experiment with a coffee macarons concept, and I always like playing with the macaron shell that so many people revere and respect because, well why not. The playing with the shell took a couple of forms but the best was the sprinkle of cocoa powder as it made the macarons look like the frothy top of a coffee drink. So the chocolate filling was the obvious glue for the conceptual mess, plus who doesn't like coffee and chocolate together?!

Can I have a medium Americano and one large cup of macarons ;)

Mocha Macarons

125g Ground Almonds
175g Icing Sugar
2 tsp Instant Espresso powder (This has to be one of those over-priced powdered real coffee things)
3 egg whites (aged)
75g White Caster Sugar
3/8 tsp cream of tartar

Cocao Powder to decorate

Chocolate filling of choice ( I used nutella, but that was mostly out of laziness/desire to get these in
                                               my mouth faster)

In a clean bowl beat your aged, cold egg whites and cream of tartar until light and frothy, add the caster sugar slowly and beat until you have made a beautiful meringue.
Sieve together the ground almonds, icing sugar and coffee powder. Once thoroughly sieved and combined then add this to your meringue and mix until the mixture not longer forms peaks.
Pipe the mixture onto your parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Attempt to keep the macarons the same size.

Once you have piped all the macarons onto the cookie sheets (this mixture fills about 2 cookie sheets) then decorate with cocoa powder. This can be done which ever way you feel like, for one sheet I sprinkled cocoa powder delicately over the macarons but on the other I literally just threw cocoa powder all over the cookie sheet (feeling like a modern artist I might add) and they both turned out pretty well. Finally allow the cookies to sit for one hour before baking for 10-12 minutes at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

Let the macarons cool on the parchment paper but off the cookie sheet, remove carefully and pipe a small amount of filling in between two cookies before sandwiching them. Then enjoy which you can see I was when I initially started this post, ah three days ago, how I miss your chocolatey flavours =)

So.........that went well......but I'm back with a bang!

At the start of the year I said that I would try to post more regularly and......yeah....that didn't happen =/ Finishing this doctorat...