Monday, May 15, 2017

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 doctorate and wedding planning, well my excuses are endless but the reality of trying to blog while also writing and working on a million other things was something that I did not anticipate.

So I will catch you up. In the last few months I got my Dr, have travelled to Austria, Switzerland, sunny southampton (to buy a wedding dress) and have been slowly but steadily ticking off items on my wedding to-do list.

A beautiful arch at our venue

Check out those Austrian mountains

No-one tells you flowers cost this much

We took this photo for our stationary
I've got a dress. He got a suit. We got a florist, a band, a DJ, a priest, and a cake plan, which brings us to this post. This weekend I decided to do a trial of one of my cake layers. I call it a ferroro rocher cake. What do you think?

This cake has three layers of hazelnut genoise sponge, doused with amaretto, separated by layers of hazelnut chocolate buttercream, and then smothered in hazelnut chocolate ganache!! It's a nightmare for nut allergies but it is a heavenly dream for everyone else.

Don't you want a little bite?!

So let me talk you through the process and I should start by acknowledging my inspiration for this came from Gretchen Bakery blog and I directly used her recipe for the sponge but I made significant changes to the rest of the cake that she then created for her ferrero rocher cake.

So for the genoise sponge recipe visit the link above.

I made three layers of cake and then used an amaretto simple syrup on the layers for moisture

Then I went in with a hazelnut chocolate buttercream. Now I have seen a number of other bloggers, including Gretchen, make a nutella buttercream by mixing ordinary buttercream with nutella. For me this was too sweet and too pale so I developed my own.

Hazelnut Chocolate buttercream

2 tbsp hazelnut butter
100gr butter
1 pinch of salt
150g Icing sugar
2 heaped teaspoons of nutella
3 tbsp of unsweetened cocao powder
1-2 tbsp milk until desired consistency

1 - Beat together the butter and hazelnut butter with a pinch of salt (unnecessary if using salted    
2  - Add the icing sugar slowly and continue to beat
3 - Add nutella
4 - Add cocao powder
5 - Finally add milk until you have reached desired consistency

I then piped this onto my layers leaving a small amount of room at the edge

You can see how dark it is

Then add your hazelnut ganache around the outside of the buttercream, ensuring there are no air pockets and add your next layers

For this cake I wanted a slightly soft ganache that would be firm enough to stay in place so for a three layer 7" cake this is what I used -
250g - Milk chocolate
200g dark chocolate
260ml single cream
85g chopped, toasted and slightly caramelised hazelnut pieces

Here you can see the layer have all been added and I am about to frost with the ganache
Finally frost the top and sides generously with the hazelnut ganache and chill until the ganache becomes firm. You should now have a cake that looks like a ferrero rocher and tastes like a hazelnut dream.

This is definitely a cake that can be prepared in advance as the overnight storage allows the genoise to soak up more of the flavour and moisture from the buttercream and ganache. I would highly recommend that you try this cake and my fiance has given it a two thumbs up so if you are attending our wedding then you very well might be trying this in a few months time.

For the moment I will leave you there and return soon with some other deliciousness

Monday, January 16, 2017

New Year, new attempt to post regularly

To say that the past few months have been crazy would be an understatement along the lines of nothing of interest happened in 2016. I explored in a previous post the difficulty with finishing a doctorate and I noted then, as I note now, that if this was easy it wouldn't be such a high level of education. So there you go, it was hard, and unfortunately as you can plainly see it massively impacted my blogging. I say this every time I disappear but it never ceases to be true- I thought about the blog frequently and over Christmas I even took photos for blog posts. Unfortunately every Monday would come and go and the simple reality is this -  when you spend all day, every day reading, writing and editing large quantities of work then more writing in the form of blogging is the last thing you want to do at the end of the day!

Now I managed to write during the day and write to relax during the majority of my doctorate but in the last 3 months I was forcing myself to start early and finish as late as possible (although not past 10pm cos I'm not the all-nighter type that I used to be) and it just left me completely spent. In fact, the blog was not the only thing that suffered. I realised belatedly over Christmas that I had, unknowingly, become something of a recluse! I was so excited to see my wonderful friends over the break and then when I did see them I struggled to find something interesting to say. Once we covered the topic of how my doctorate was coming (usually within 3 minutes because ultimately it's boring) then I had nothing else interesting to add. So sorry to any of my friends to whom I seemed weird, this year I want to talk much more and I swear I will be more normal....promise =)

Still new year, new attempt and I am back with a simple but delicious recipe for the new year. I have posted about this many times but I quite dislike this time of year. Mostly I dislike the shame and self-blame that everyone is expected to carry and that I obligingly carry because the Christmas extravagance always leaves me slightly softer than before. But nothing in the societal narrative allows for acceptance of the natural ups and downs of body mass and unfortunately I have yet to find a way to negotiate that body shaming narrative without translating it into a personal narrative of low self-compassion. Each year I respond to this in the same way and although it does little to address the central issue of absorbing the shame, I usually find a nice little recipe to show myself some delicious self-love without having to feel bad.

Just after Christmas I received a delicious tin of soft amaretti biscuits. I have had plenty of hard amaretti before and frankly I don't really like them too well but soft amaretti.......oh yum!!! Soft Amaretti are basically just almond paste biscuits and if you know me then you'll probably know that Christmas means almond paste for me. I devour the stuff, in marzipan bars, stollen, stollen, more stollen, all of the stollen! So yes it's not a huge surprise that I liked these biscuits but the surprise is that those soft amaretti biscuits that you see above - they have 6g protein, 3g carbs and only 2g sugar! So to say that these are new years food is an understatement too - in fact I have definitely found my new tradition!!

Look at that deliciousness!!
So lets get straight into it....

Healthy Low Sugar, Low Carb Soft Amaretti

330g ground almonds
4 egg whites
3 tbsp castor sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp Amaretto alcohol

1 - Preheat the oven to 180'. Beat together the egg whites and salt until light and fluffy

2 - Slowly add the sugar a tablespoon at a time beating between additions

3 - Add the vanilla paste and beat. At this point you will have a meringue like mixture

4 - Now fold in the ground almonds.

5 - Then add the amaretto and mix to fully combine.

6 - Roll into 1" balls and place on a lined baking sheet

7 - Bake for 15 minutes then allow to cool

These taste crazy good. When you remove them from the oven you will find that the outside is hard while the inside is soft. However if you put the biscuits in an air-tight container you will find that the outside will soften and then they are at peak perfection.

Nutritional Info - Batch makes 20 biscuits
Each Biscuit
120 Kcals
6g Protein
3g Carbs
of which 2g of sugar
9g healthy fats

I have found these to be the perfect substitute to other sweet treats. I have used them after the gym and particularly as a low carb, low sugar dessert!!

So if you like almonds I would highly recommend trying this recipe and you will not be sorry. I will be back next week with more deliciousness and hopefully a further review of Gilmore girls: A year in the life.

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...