Monday, May 04, 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut Buns - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (25/100)


Now these were rather good! Sticky, sweet and indulgent - perfect bank holiday tea food.


These nicely rounded off a barbeque and part 3 of The Hobbit (the only part I have ever seen) with The Fair Physiologist, The Pure Mathematician in Exile, Little Boy Red and The Aerospace Godfather.


I can neither confirm nor deny that they also served as the starter.


This is one I will be aiming to bake again. So far I have come to the conclusion that many of the recipes in this book very easily fit into two categories, "bake again" and "don't bother"!


For an extra chocolate-hazelnut kick, I substituted half of the butter in the filling with chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella) - yum!


These are best eaten fresh and warm on the day they are baked, but if there are leftovers (haha) a quick 15-20 seconds in the microwave (per bun) the next day, is almost as good.


A word of warning: If you eat these in front of a 10 month old who is not allowed anything so sweet and sticky, he will pull the most pitiful looks and repeatedly point at your plate, giving you the worst guilt trip ever. Just saying.



Ingredients: 
Dough: 
300ml lukewarm whole milk
25g caster sugar
1+1/2 tsp dried active yeast (that's 1 tsp "quick" yeast or "fast-action")
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed
Filling: 
50g unsalted butter, softened (I substituted 25g of butter for 25g of Nutella)
100g caster sugar
100g finely chopped hazelnuts (I just whizzed whole nuts in a coffee grinder until I had something resembling chopped nuts)
25g cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten (for glazing before the oven - I didn't bother, the buns are hidden under so much sugary glaze that this didn't seem necessary, but if you weren't making the sugary glaze, might be worth it)
Glaze: (optional)
50g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
125g full-fat cream cheese


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Candy Bar Pie - - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (24/100)


Things you learn from baking through a book: 1) The author's penchant for certain foods - Home Sweet Home indicates Tarek Malouf is probably a fan of nuts. Peanuts particularly.


2) That some of the recipes are take-offs or variations on other recipes in the book - here the "Candy Bar Pie" is another peanut butter cheesecake - this time without the gelatine, and baked.


3) That you can reuse the things you had leftover from last time for the next derivative bake - with this bake, instead of sprinkling on chopped salted peanuts, I applied a layer of leftover peanut brittle from the peanut butter cheesecake.


4) The authors' blind spots - Home Sweet Home has several recipes where the topping is far beyond what you could ever use - with the peanut butter cheesecake I was swimming in peanut brittle,


with this, the chocolate ganache was so vast a quantity that my cheesecake looks somewhat ridiculous when compared to the light, abstract design in the picture.



On the whole, though, this is a pretty solid bake, and is by far the better of the two peanut butter cheesecakes in this book!


Ingredients:
Crust:
125g oreos
125g digestive biscuits (I used all dark chocolate digestives)
150g unsalted butter (I substituted 75g of butter for 75g of dark chocolate and 2 tsp chocolate-hazelnut spread)
Filling:
3 Snickers bars (I used the "standard" ones - the sort you would pick up from a newsagent)
230g full fat cream cheese
100g caster sugar
80g soured cream
140g crunchy peanut butter
2 large eggs
Topping:
140g dark chocolate chips (I only used 100g and this was still excessive)
2 tablespoons double cream
50g salted peanuts, roughly chopped

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mint Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (23/100)


These are cute, crumbly, cookies, with a little pools of ganache in their centres. A nice simple bake, that can be thrown together quickly and easily.


To make them even easier, the thumbprint and ganache could be omitted - one of my cookies disintigrated in transfer from baking sheet to wire rack, so I consumed the evidence, and can confirm the plain cookie was rather pleasant.


The ganache would be my only criticism of these cookies - it involves 1.5 tablespoons of cream being heated to boiling. This is an annoying quantity of cream. (A peek ahead to next week involves 2 tablespoons of cream being heated. Humph)


The application of the ganache is fiddly, but satisfying.


Ingredients:
For the cookies
60g dark chocolate
110g unsalted butter, softened
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1tsp peppermint essence
125g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
40g demerara sugar (recipe says 75g, I weighed out 50g, and there was at least 10g leftover)

For the filling
40g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1+1/2 tbsp double cream
1 tsp peppermint essence


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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Peanut Butter Cheesecake - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (22/100)


I have to say, I'm not convinced on this recipe - it is a very soft set for a cheesecake, despite using gelatine. (Mrs B found the same thing so I'm pretty sure it's not my ineptitude this time.)


Then we need to talk about the 4 raw egg yolks in the cheese part. Why are they there? What do they do? (Apart from make this cheesecake unsuitable for pregnant women, and make me nervous about serving it to friends?) I think if I'd been planning this more I would have omitted them - they don't add anything, and I doubt anyone would notice their absence.


Then of course there is the enormous volume of peanut praline (more than twice what was needed, even with my generous application.)


The cheesecake is not unpleasant, and I love it as a concept, but I'm not sure it works in practice. The crunchy peanut butter goes kind of soggy, and the peanuts aren't really crunchy - I think a smooth peanut butter would give a better texture and more even flavour.


I'm afraid I probably won't be repeating this one though, there are better cheesecakes out there!


Ingredients:

For the base:
200g nutty chocolate chip biscuits (I used a packet of hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies)
75g unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake topping:
400g full fat cream cheese
150g caster sugar
4 large egg yolks (see comments above)
6 leaves of gelatine
150g crunchy peanut butter (see comments above)
250ml double cream

For the peanut brittle (makes far more than needed):
100g unsalted roasted peanuts (where sells *un*salted roasted peanuts?? I used salted ones, they worked just fine, and actually tied the whole "peanut butter" thing in better)
200g caster sugar
50ml water


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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Blueberry and Amaretti Trifle Cupcakes - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (21/100)


Apart from being unseasonal (blueberry season is not for a wee while yet), these turned out to be an excellent cupcake for this weekend.


I have been to visit Mama and Papa. Papa is a fan of cake in most manifestations, but a blueberry muffin, with a bit of an homage to trifle and with just a hint of almond seems to have gone down well.


Mama and I have to keep counting the cupcakes to deter sudden disappearances.


Fearing the scrambled eggs phenomenon, I undercooked my custard initially (it was very liquid, and still had a delightful cornflour mouthfeel *bleurgh*) so reboiled it and it thickened beautifully. A whisk is essential - a spatula or spoon will result in lumps.


I'm not usually a trifle fan - I find it a rather strange experience. Think about it, you soak stale cake in alcohol to try and disguise its staleness, then add squashed fruit, and cover the whole lot in cold custard. I'm sure that is as controversial as the whole scone debate last summer, but if you can't be controversial about food, when can you be?


These cupcakes are good though - the best parts of trifle - but no stale sponge.


Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
70g unsalted butter, at room temperature
210g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
210ml whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (the original recipe only uses vanilla extract, but I felt it needed something to tie the amaretti flavours into the sponge
150g blueberries (I used frozen, as April isn't really blueberry season, unless of course it's strawberries that have turned blue because of the cold #soundofmusicreference... and yes... I just used a hashtag in a blog)
Custard Cream:
330ml whole milk
3 large egg yolks
60g caster sugar
20g plain flour
20g cornflour
150ml double cream

Decoration:
75g blueberries (I omitted these, because, as you might have seen me mention, it is not blueberry season and frozen blueberries would go all smudgy)
50g amaretti biscuits, crushed into fine crumbs

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cheese Straws - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (20/100)



The more astute among you may have noticed the slightly longer break between posts. Due to a combination of illness and busy-ness, Gill and I agreed to have a little "half term" break. And we both know that cheese straws are hardly exactly high level baking, but sometimes they're just one too many things to do!


These were a slight variation on my usual method, which involved sandwiching the cheese between two layers of puff pastry - here the pastry is brushed with an egg wash and the cheese squashed into the top.


The cheese straws look better - because there is the contrast in the twist of the cheesy side and the non-cheesy side, but the cheese feels less distributed in the twists, I felt.


Also, I think I underbaked these - they could have done with being a bit browner and crispier, but they went down well at Home Group!


Ingredients:
250g puff pastry (shop bought! It's okay - even Mary Berry buys hers...)
180g gruyere cheese (I substituted this for mature cheddar), grated
60g parmesan, grated
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (It's not thyme season, I substitued this for 1 tsp dried thyme)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Peanut Brittle (Mixed Nut Brittle) - Home Sweet Home Bake Along (19/100)


Peanut brittle, such a fun throwback to the days when tuck shops could sell refined sugar and nuts. Like Mrs B, I adapted this recipe to make it more than just peanuts - I used a blend of hazelnuts, almonds, salted peanuts and walnut pieces.


The salted peanuts provided a wonderful contrast to the sweetness of the caramel. I had a little trouble getting the caramel evenly out of the pan and over all of the nuts before it started to cool to much and solidified in the pan.


It did ooze about generally, though, so only a few nuts were not "glued" properly, but some of my difficulties might be the varied sizes of my nuts, rather than the more uniform size of all peanuts.


It's jolly more-ish, I must say.


Peanut Brittle
250g nuts - a blend of your choice!
300g granulated sugar
400ml water

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