Monday, July 28, 2014

A quick and easy summer dessert

Ok - I am not going to lie to you. I am all the way phoning it in this week! I have a massive deadline in college and haven't had the time to even think about baking. To add to that it is HOT here!! I mean in the mid to high twenties at night!! There is just no relieve. Now it has been pointed out to me, today actually, that if I had ever lived in a more tropical climate I wouldn't even consider this to be spring weather and I take the point on board, but this little Irish girl is just not used to the heat! Now you see why I love autumn and winter so!

In terms of baking, the summer brings cravings for fresh flavours, salads and fruit so cake and cookies go off my radar for a while. But that's not to say that my sweet-tooth takes a vacation! Oh no, I need my sugar fix! So this week I thought I'd show you what you can throw together that satisfies the need for dessert without too much hassle, or any baking (hence the phoning it in).

Frozen Grapes with Mint Chocolate Dip!

You'll need:
White Grapes
Dark chocolate
Dark mint chocolate
White wine (optional)

So this recipe takes no effort but some planning. You will need to freeze your grapes over night but if you're like me and have difficulty with this heat I would recommend having a bag of grapes in your freezer all summer

You get to see inside my freezer, feeling privileged?! I know you are!!
Just before serving take out your chocolates. You want to have a 2/1 ration of dark chocolate to mint dark chocolate and I would recommend at least 40g of chocolate per person, probably more!

You can melt your chocolate in a double boiler or directly in the ramekins in the microwave, heating for 20 seconds at a time and mixing between blasts. Once melted serve immediately.

Present each guest with their own grapes and chocolate and let the dipping ensue

If you wanted to be classy you could provide them with plastic toothpicks!

You'll notice that the chocolate hardens instantly on the cold grape, so there's no mess and the flavours go together beautifully. Combine this with a nice dessert wine and you are golden my friends!

Other uses for frozen grapes:
To replace ice-cubes in a drink that you need to cool but do not wish to water down any further - like a pimms cup!!
Without the chocolate as a refreshing snack
In a smoothie
To thrown at an annoying friend or sibling, idk - please don't they are really hard!

So that's it, I'll be back next week with hopefully a more complicated recipe but in the mean time try this and enjoy =)

Monday, July 21, 2014

A quickie but a goodie: a croisnut fakeout

If you've read my blog for any amount of time you'll probably see that there is quite a range of different recipes on here. There are recipes for healthy stuff, really unhealthy stuff, complicated multi-stage recipes and also recipes for those who maybe don't have a lot of time to bake. I am aware that there are people who don't spend their whole lives thinking about new recipes, picking up new food gadgets or funny little ingredients. There are lots of people who don't have hours to bake and then clean but who would like the outcome of baking. I'm not the only person who has realized this which is why there are entire grocery aisles full of quick fix, cake in a box type products. I'm not entirely against using these products, but I love if I can use these products to make something better see cinnamon, nut twist bread for an example. So today I'm taking the same idea and making croisnuts.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Bastille Day!

It's the 14th July which is Bastille Day in France and I am celebrating with these adorable bite-size raspberry tartlets and a trip down memory lane.

When I was young my family took a few trips to France and amongst the many happy memories from those trips one of the most prominent were trips to the boulangerie/ patissierie in the morning to pick up the bread and some cake for the day. My dad made a ritual of this every morning and it was one of my favourite things about our trips. Inevitably the delicious raspberry tarts that are so classically french were a regular feature on our holiday table so this tart brings with it more than the sweet flavours, it's cliche but it brings wonderfully memories of happy times.

The pastry base is rustic, perhaps a little too rustic for a french pastry chef but they are just as delicious and use equipment that you might already have.

To form the pastry bases I used a miny cupcake tin. However the inside of the cases would be too small so I formed the pastry over the bottom of the tin and cooked them with a cookie sheet on top to weigh them down and ensure that they had a flat base.

Raspberry Tartlets

Short Crust Pastry
165g Butter (Cold)
375g Plain Flour
2 tbsp Caster Sugar
Ice-cold water until combined
Ground almonds to roll

1. Cut the butter and sugar together until you've formed small crumbs.

2. Add in your sugar and mix thoroughly.

3. Add ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix thoroughly. If doing this in a food processor
    continue processing until one dough ball has formed. Then cover in cling-film and refridgerate for
    at least 20 minutes.
4. Roll out the dough and use a tiny bit of ground almonds to keep the dough from sticking. Be
    careful not to use too much or the tough will dry up, if this happens just work the dough back
    together and re-roll with less almonds. Preheat your oven to 200'C.

5. Using a circle cutter, cut out circles of pastry and then chill again before baking for 10-15 minutes.

Creme Patissiere
6 Egg Yolks
150g Caster Sugar
2.5 Tbsp Plain Flour
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
525ml full fat milk

1. Beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the flour and beat again.
2. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla bean paste until boiling.

3. Slowly add the boiling milk into the egg and continue beating.

4. Return to the pan and heat until boiling again and the mixture thickens.

5. Let cool slightly before passing through a sieve.

6. While the mixture is still warm pour tablespoon amounts into each pastry case. and let chill, then top each with three raspberries and dust with icing sugar.

As you can see I also glazed half of mine but could not perfect the glaze so that might need to be another post
These particular tartlets were destined for a wonderful BBQ I attended this weekend and received wonderful reviews so I can guarantee they go down well. The best part is that they are so small that, as my bf pointed out, you might need more than one to be sure how much you like them and that's just fine ;)

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...