Monday, 21 July 2014

Snickerdoodles

Don't let the name of these cookies fool you, they are indeed nothing to do with the famous chocolate bar. What seems to be a plain butter cookie, is anything but. The subtle caramelised sugar and cinnamon coating along with the soft buttery inside makes this one of my favourite accompaniments to a nice cup of tea. 

For some reason unknown, I was apprehensive whenever I came across a Snickerdoodle recipe. Maybe I was instinctively wary of a cookie that isn't what it claims to be. Or perhaps it is the famous chocolate bar that lent its name from the cookie? Regardless of the origins of Snickerdoodles, my childish concerns were put to rest when my Mum told me about these delicious pieces of buttery goodness and I have finally given them a go, and how pleased I am that I did!

Snickerdoodles
Source: Say it with Cake

Ingredients:
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, room temperature
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Coating
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan-forced) and line two baking sheets with baking paper. In a medium bowl whisk the flour,baking powder and salt together to combine, then set aside. 
  2. Make the coating in a small bowl but mixing the cinnamon and sugar, set aside. 
  3. Using a free standing mixer, place the butter and sugar the bowl and beat together until light and fluffy (approx 5mins). If you do not have a stand mixer, use an electric whisk to beat the butter and sugar. 
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, one at a time mixing thoroughly between each addition. Add the flour mixture in three addition, beating until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix your dough.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Take one half of the dough and divide it into 12 equal size balls. Each portion should weigh around 40g - about a tbsp of dough. Roll the cookie balls in the cinnamon sugar and then place on the prepared baking sheet (5cm apart). You should have 6 cookies per baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle (mine took 10mins). Allow to cool on baking sheets slightly before transferring onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Make a pot of tea to have with your Snickerdoodles, at their best while still warm on vintage floral plates upon a lace tablecloth. 

Coasters: Made by Me, pattern soon to feature on the blog.
Teacups: Vintage, New Zealand
Spoon: Vintage, England
Linen Napkin: Crate & Barrel
Cake Stand: England, find similar here.
Floral tea plate: Zara Home

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Salted Caramel Truffles

If you haven't jumped on the Salted Caramel bandwagon yet, I have the perfect opportunity for you. Don't feel intimidated by the buzz around this flavour profile, all it is, is a whole lot'a sugar, a little cream and most importantly, salt. These beauties are easier than the name suggests.

I have tried both with a combination of milk and dark chocolate, as well as with pure 70% cocoa. More than likely I will continue with a combination of milk and dark, unless I'm craving a deep, dark indulgence in which case the 70% takes the cake. You can coat them in cocoa, icing sugar or melted chocolate, whatever takes your fancy. Feel free to experiment with new coatings and toppings.
Wouldn't these make the sweetest party favours, boxed in recycled paper and wrapped in twine. Homemade is always so much more special than bought.

Here, is the treasured recipe:

Ingredients
  • 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) I use Lindt
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 20g light brown sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • cocoa powder for coating
  1. Put the chocolate (chopped) in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside. 
  2. Place the caster sugar in a medium pan over medium heat and leave until the sugar begins to dissolve and caramelise around the edges. Using a silicone spatula, drag the unsolved sugar towards the muddle to help is dissolve evenly.Once the sugar is completely dissolved and has turned a golden brown colour, pour in half the cream, all of the vanilla and light brown sugar. Be careful as it will bubble up wildly, go slowly! Remove from heat.
  3. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the remaining cream. Stir to combine. If the caramel is lumpy, return to low heat and allow sugar to dissolve. To avoid a lumpy caramel, make sure the brown sugar is lump free before adding it to the mix. 
  4. Once you have a lump-free caramel, add the butter and sea salt stirring gently to combine. 
  5. Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, leave it for a few minutes and  then gently stir to combine. Chill until firm enough to shape into balls. 
  6. To make the truffles, have a small bowl of cocoa prepared for coating and a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Take large teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and roll into balls. Roll the formed ball immediately in the cocoa powder and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have finished the mixture. Sprinkle over a little extra salt or a little icing sugar to complete. Chill in the fridge until needed. 
A little word of warning: These are extremely addictive, handle with care.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Cauliflower Cheese


Cauliflower Cheese to Roast Chicken is as Icing is to Cake, a little piece on happiness on one's plate. A generous dash of gravy, goes without saying. 

This dish reminds me so much of home, the creamy sauce and cheese is so comforting it literally warms your heart. If is wasn't 40+ degrees outside I would put on some fuzzy socks, a cosy knit and immersed myself in a fluffy blanket with a bowl of this cheesy goodness.

I made this in a flurry last night as iftar time was quickly approaching and a hungry Mel is not one to fluff around with taking photos. I actually sent a quick message to my Mum asking her for the recipe for the perfect accompaniment to my roast chicken. My usual roast potatoes needed a change up so this was the fix! Check my post about cooking the perfect roast chicken, here. I have all the tips and tricks for a succulent and tasty chook.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium size cauliflower
  • 25g  butter
  • 25g  flour
  • 600ml milk 
  • 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese
  • breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and blanch in boiling water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Sift in the flour and stir until it has cooked off (1-2mins)
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk to get a smooth sauce.
  5. Return to heat, stirring continuously bringing it to the boil. 
  6. Add the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. 
  7. Simmer gently for 8-10 mins. 
  8. Add the cauliflower, stir to combine.
  9. Transfer the cauliflower cheese into a oven-safe dish, top with breadcrumbs and parmesan and bake in 160C oven for 20 mins. 
Image via Ella Goodwin

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Berry Tartlets

So some of you may know about my addition to Rachel Khoo's, Little Paris Kitchen. Sadly the series finished after just one season as Rachel moved out of her tiny Parisian abode and back to her original home, London. Rachel started a new series, called Kitchen Notebook: London which was similar in content of her first series but lacked the quirky realness of the Paris series. I suspect this had a lot of do with the location and the missing ingredient of effortless Parisian charm. Beneath the setting, Rachel's talent of cooking is still there as well as her lovely personality.

This recipe, which I really love, comes from her Kitchen Notebook: London series. These tarts are in whole very simple to make but be warned that if you are making them for a crowd the fiddly cooking time does become a little tedious. I made 25 of these little pastries, but you can make as many or as little as you wish. I tripled the recipe below and kept making them until I ran out of pastry. 


Ingredients
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar
  • 175g ready made (all butter) puff pastry
For the filling
  • 90g butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 90g cream cheese
  • 1 large handful fresh berries (I used blueberries and raspberries)
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Dust the work surface with half the sugar and roll out the pastry to a landscape rectangle roughly 20cm x 15cm. Dust with the remaining sugar and roll over the rolling pin to press the sugar in. Tightly roll it along the longer side.
  3. Cut the roll into 6 same-sized pieces. Take one piece and place it spiral side up into a muffin tin. Use your thumb to push the dough outwards evenly to coat the inside, until it reaches the top of the muffin hole. Repeat with the rest of the spirals.
  4. Prick the base of each one with a fork, then line with baking paper and add ceramic baking beans to each.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes with the beans, then remove the beans and return to the oven for the centres to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the muffin tins immediately (otherwise they caramelise and stick) and leave to cool.
  7. For the filling: Beat together the butter and the icing sugar, then whip lightly. Beat in the cream cheese until well blended.
  8. Scoop the filling into a piping bag, cut off the tip and pipe the frosting onto the tartlet base and decorate with berries. Dust with icing sugar. 
Note: If you are making a lot of these, I recommend you do so in 6 piece batches. For one of my batches I used a 12 hold muffin tin and I couldn't remove them quickly enough before they began to caramelise and stick.