Monday, June 30, 2014

A fat-free dessert for your summer party

There are a lot of exciting things coming up this week and lots of reasons to party. This coming Friday is Independence Day stateside, which means BBQs, ice-cream and fire-works and on this side of the pond this weekend is the Wimbledon tennis final, which means strawberries, ice-cream and 'Pimm's' cups to me (not that I've ever gone to it but I've dreamed) Edit: How could I forget that Tuesday is also Canada day, yet another reason to celebrate! So there's lots and lots of potential parties and delicious food. However what if you are eating healthy at the moment? Well I have a solution for you my friend and it is absolutely delicious so you won't feel left out.

These giant meringues are the perfect way to have your 'cake' and eat it without as much guilt. Now, they are not very low in sugar, I replace some of the sugar with stevia but you can only go so far when you want to get crispy meringues. I'll tell you a secret: I have been working on lower calorie baked dishes for years and am always trying to replace the sugar or fat with healthier options. Meringues were one of the recipes I tinkered with, however it never worked out and it reached a stage where all I produced was marshmallow clouds without any bite until one day my sister, who I was baking with, said 'This is ridiculous, you need so much more sugar in these!'

Well these meringues are crispy, sweet and chewy in the center and still have 1/3 less sugar than normal.

Real fruit Meringue with fat free 'sweet cream' (makes 4 giant meringues)

6 egg whites
6/8 tsp cream of tartar
230g white caster sugar
115g equivilant stevia (follow the packer directions, my stevia says 10% so c12g stevia)

250g strawberries + 1 pinch stevia
250g Black berries + 1 pinch stevia

8 tbsp fat-free greek yoghurt (2 per meringue)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
optional - stevia to taste
berries to decorate

1 - Start by making your coulis- in a saucepan mash together the berries and stevia

2 - Boil the berries until they have reduced by half, let cool and then put through a sieve.

3 - Preheat your oven to 110'C. Beat the egg whites until light and fluffy, mix together the sugar and
      stevia and slowly add while whisking. Stop when firm peaks have formed.

4 - Pour out large dollops of meringue, then spoon on 3/4 tsp of the coulis on top of the meringue
      and use a tooth pick or the handle of a teaspoon to fold and mix the coulis gently into the
      meringue, stopping when it's streaked through the meringue. Steps below.

Try to lift up to keep the volume

Strawberry meringue

Blackberry meringue - these turned out best, a mon avis!
5 - Bake for 90 to 115 minutes and then turn off the oven and crack open the door to let the
     meringues dry out until cool. You will notice that the meringues lose a lot of volume and the
     colour diminishes on the outside. This is why it's important to try to keep the volume before
     cooking and don't worry the colour remains vivid inside.

6 - Now let's dress this up while keeping it fat free, so don't touch that cream!! Trust me you will not miss it. Now beat together your greek yoghurt, vanilla extract, vanilla paste and stevia. Portion out 2 tablespoons per meringue and decorate with extra berries and sprinkled coulis over the top. Then serve with a sparkling drink and enjoy ;)

Do you like my attempt to do red, white and blue? Perfect 4th July colours!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review

This week there's no recipe. It's been a busy week and, honestly, I didn't feel like baking. It's not a bad thing, even your favourite hobbies need a break every now and then. So this weekend I spent out in the sun, soaking up the summer air, eating out and getting inspired for future posts. I also went to the movies and therefore I wanted to review something from a big screen for once; 'The Fault in our Stars,'

Monday, June 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

Last week was US national peanut butter cookie day and the start of the Soccer World Cup. So I can see no better time to post about a cookie recipe that I've been working on...... Peanut Butter Cookie Cups.

It feels like a long time since I posted anything relating to cookies. This recipe came about from trying to think about something that my bf would like. He loves peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. When thinking about these two things I was reminded of a guy I worked with in the states. Everyone said he was the best cook, but somehow I couldn't imagine how, as the only ingredients we had access to came in dehydrated box form. What could he really do with that I thought? How wrong I was. This guy used to take boxed cookie mix and the available ingredients and somehow whip up an amazing cake. It was a cookie cake with crispy outer and chewy cakey inside. Then it occurred to me that one could replicate this on a mini cupcake sized scale, with a take on the classic peanut butter cup and let me tell you, it works beautifully. Each bite-sized cup is loaded with chocolate and peanut butter chips replicating that classic taste but also has a deliciously crispy edge and a chewy cookie center.

So the big question - did I achieve my aim of making something that my bf would enjoy? After one taste he actually ran to the kitchen for seconds, so I'd say yes (Big smiles all round). And if your man is a football fan, these little brazil coloured cupcake cases could make this a perfect game day snack. So lets get into the recipe shall we.

Peanut Butter Cookie Cups

225g (1 Cup) Butter
100g (1/2 Cup) Caster Sugar
100g (1/2 Cup) Granulated Brown Sugar
100g (1/2 Cup) Soft muscovado sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 egg
192g (1.5 Cups) Plain Flour
96g   (3/4 Cup) White Bread Flour
1 tsp Salt
150g (1 Cup) Peanut Butter Chips
150g (1 Cup ) Milk Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat your oven to 180'C/350'F/Gas mark 4.

2. In a bowl beat together your butter, sugars and vanilla extract until smooth.

3. Add the egg and beat until incorporated.

4. Sieve together your flours and salt, then beat these into the
     butter mixture until you have a dough.

5. Finally mix in your peanut butter and chocolate chips.

6. Line a mini cupcake tin with mini cupcake cases.

7. Then taking small amounts of the mixture, roll into smooth
     balls and then press firmly into the cases.

8. Then bake your cookies on a shelf in the middle of your oven for 8-10 minutes, keeping an eye on
    them as ovens differ greatly and perfect cookies differ from burnt ones by about 30 seconds.

You will need to let your little delicacies cool slightly before jumping in and once you start, be careful because, you may not be able to stop. Either way enjoy =)

Just one is never enough ;)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Orange is the New Black Snack Attack

This weekend like many people, I binged on some amazing 'Orange is the New Black,' season 2 amaziness and this level of awesome TV show requires a level of snack that is above par, so popcorn meet puppy chow, you will be the best of friends!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Ocado Online Shopping

So this week I had planned my usual favourite summer bake; macarons! My boyfriend has been requesting raspberry macarons the size of a saucer and, with my final assignment handed in, I finally had time to make them. However these were my first macarons in the new place and as you might expect, but somehow I forgot, they turned out to be a disaster. I don't try to hide my failures on here, because I think it's important to show that everyone has baking mess ups, but that said I don't think you need to read a whole post about it.
Therefore I have decided to do something completely different and review the online grocery shopping experience of Obviously this will only be relevant to people in the UK but maybe if nothing else you might be interested in seeing my grocery shop. It's a grocery haul!! ;)

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...