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Macaron Chacaron

Bizarrely, whenever I think of Macarons, I think of that weird song “Macaron Chacarron” by El Chombo. If you haven’t heard the song… well, let me please enlighten you:

Anyway, back to cakes! Macarons are lovely little French delights that are just bursting with flavour. They’re chewy, but light, and you can have so many flavour combinations.

I wanted to try several different flavours. Lemon, mint, espresso, White chocolate and raspberry and also just a traditional vanilla. It’s close to the end of the month, which basically means just using the ingredients I have. So I settled on a lemon macaron with lemon buttercream and also a mint macaron with a white chocolate ganache. In other words: yum, yum and yum. This blog post is focusing on the mint Macarons.

I started by double sifting my ground almonds and icing sugar together. I lack a lot of patience but is really important to sift through twice, as ground almonds are quite thick, and you really don’t want the larger chunks of almond to make it through. You will lose some grams of ground almonds, so made sure you do extra, and remeasure it after each sift. Also NEWS FLASH: almond flour and ground almonds are the same thing. Don’t be conned into paying more for something that says “almond flour” on the packet, save yourself some pennies and spend it on a different ingredient or some extracts. TREAT YOURSELF.

Afterwards, I set the twice sifted flour combination aside, and worked on separating my yolks from my whites. Ladies and gents, I give you, an empty plastic bottle. Honestly, this is genius, and whoever thought of this, should win a prize. Basically, crack the egg into a cup, bowl, anything that floats your boat. Squeeze your bottle over the yolk, then let go, the egg yolk should be sucked up into the bottle. So simple, but so amazing. I attached a video of me in awe of this.

Then I whipped up my egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. A good way to tell if they’re ready, is by turning the bowl completely upside down.

Once this is ready, it’s time to add the essence and the food colouring of choice. I really like using Wilton food gels, but you can use any food gel. I’d recommend staying away from running food colouring as this can change the consistency of the batter. I mixed a yellow and a blue Wilton colouring gel, to get my green. They’re really dark and you only need a little bit. So I used a small medicine syringe we have in our baking draw, to put the smallest amount in the mixture.

As per usual I just wanted to eat this. It just looks nice to eat.

This is where you need to sift your powdered sugar and ground almonds into this mixture again. Yes sifting it again. This is why I have no patience!

Gently start folding the mixture together, cutting down the middle, and bringing the sides in. The mixture will look thick and clumpy at first. Then when it combines, it’ll start to thin out. This step is SUPER important, because if you over mix, it’ll be too runny.

Your mixture should start to look something like this. Keep testing every few folds. The way to do this, is to put it on a plate, and see if it all melts into one.

Side by side, the one of the left is how it’ll look as soon as it’s put on the plate. The green blob on the right is how the mixture will look if it’s ready. Then put the mixture into a piping bag, and start to put them on a baking tray. Be sure to use baking parchment and NOT greaseproof paper. I made that mistake and found it incredibly difficult to get the Macarons off the tray once they’ve been cooked.

Afterwards, bank the tray on a counter to get the air bubbles out of the mixture. Otherwise the shells will crack and be difficult to get off the tray. This should then be left for 30 minutes to an hour. Again my patience was being tested! The longer you can leave them the better.

After, they can be put in the oven to bake. This should take 15-30 minutes. You can tell when they’re completely baked, as they will slide of the parchment easy. Put a layer of parchment over the top of the Macarons in the oven, to avoid them getting too brown.

While these are doing their thing, you can make the filling. For the mint Macarons, it is a mint, white chocolate ganache filling.

Simply heat up some heavy whipping cream, until it is simmering. Take this off the heat and add to the bowl of white chocolate chips.

At this stage, add the peppermint essence. Then once the Macarons are out the oven, and cooled down, you can start assembling these treats. Now, because I’m an idiot, I only have a photo of the lemon flavoured Macarons. But they should look something like this:

I am very messy, and find it difficult to get the right amount of mixture, so I think I’d get myself a macaron sheet, so I can get the perfect macaron circle. As you can see in the photo? There’s little feet on the Macarons, this is what you want to aim for, if the mixture is too sloppy, then unfortunately, the mixture won’t rise and you won’t have the little feet.

Here’s the recipe:

Overall, the concept and theory of a macaron seems easy, but they’re ridiculously difficult! I’m really proud of my first go, and think I’ll try the espresso flavour next. Before that, I’m challenging myself to make a Battenburg cake. So watch this space!

I hope everyone has a lovely week.

Chelsea x

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Gluten Free cake pops

This week, I decided to make cake pops. I’ve scrolled through Instagram, Pinterest and various other blogs online and absolutely love the look of them! I thought to myself “eh, how hard can they be?”… well HARD is the answer to that question!

I’ve got my own cake pop machine but I wanted to find a recipe where I could do it all myself. I thought putting the batter into a machine and letting that do its thing, would take the fun out of finding and trying a new recipe.

This recipe I found is from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I made my recipe gluten free though, so tweaked it slightly! I started off by adding gluten free flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa powder. For Gluten Free ingredients I typically use flour from whichever supermarkets Free From range, but all the other ingredients I try to use Dr Oetker, as the majority of this brands products are GF. (Just remember to double check the labels!)

I then whisked together my vanilla bean paste, eggs and vegetable oil. Is it weird I love the look of raw eggs?! No idea why but I feel like I could just stare at them for a little while… strange right? Anyway, once that was whisked up, I mixed it with my dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. If you go straight in with the hand whisk, it just goes EVERYWHERE.

It will look really dry, stodgy and there will be pockets of dried ingredients, but at least the dry ingredients won’t be mixed in the air and layering the counters with chocolate-y, sugary, flour mix. To thicken this up use hot water. Roughly 100ml, or until you think it’s thick enough.

It should leave a trail like above. This, I would say is a perfect consistency. If you stand the mixer up, it should also drip and leave a trail off of the mixer.

I perfect to use a hand whisk when I bake, as I feel like I have way more control! If I use the Kenwood stand alone mixer, I tend to forget about it, and I feel like it’s less hands on. I really prefer to get stuck into my baking and do most of it myself.

Afterwards, I put the cake mix into a tray. At home we have a full sandwich bag of old butter foils, that we have finished, but still have enough butter on, to grease up a baking tin, it’s a cost effective way to grease up a tin!

Now, the cake should take 25-30 minutes to bake.. but if you have an oven like mine, where you can’t see any of the temperature numbers, you’ll realise your cake could be in the oven for an hour, and you’ll be putting a layer of grease proof paper on top of the cake, so it doesn’t burn.

Once the cake is cooled enough, you can crumble the cake. I used a food processor for this part, as I wanted really fine crumbs. While this is doing its thing, you can make the frosting.

This looked SO YUMMY and was SO DIFFICULT not to eat the whole bowl. I just wanted to sit and watch a series on Netflix, and eat this all day, but I had work so that wasn’t really an option… but now it’s the weekend, I think that could be a plan.

Afterwards, the crumbs can be put into the frosting and mixed together. I used my hand whisk again for this, to make sure it was all combined. Then, with a tea spoon, gathering uk a small amount of frosting/cake mix, I made them into little balls, ensuring they weren’t too big, otherwise they’d fall off the lollipop stocks.

These then needed to cool in the fridge for two hours. I may have eaten a couple at this point, but that was pretty inevitable!

When you’re ready, dip the stick into chocolate, and then push it into the cake pop, and leave this to set. As you can see, some of the sticks are shorter than others. I made a rookie error of not getting enough sticks, so had to chop them in half.

Afterwards, the messy part! Covering the cake pops. I wanted to make a galaxy/marble effect cake pop. This required white chocolate and food colouring. I made the mistake of getting food gel and not runny colouring.

The first one, I feel turned out really well… but the next one? Well it looked like a Smartie McFlurry that had melted. My Pinterest cake pop dreams were running away from me, and FAST! They looked a state.

And the shape looked awful too! Very frustrating. So, instead of carrying on with this, I abandoned ship and found some milk and dark chocolate in the cupboard, from when I made cupcakes a couple weeks ago.

These looked FAR better. The shape still wasn’t correct, but I feel like this is because it was cold and the chocolate was setting so quickly.

I finished by adding my glaze spray to the chocolate, to give it that lovely shiny finish.

I thought they turned out well, and tasted delicious! They just didn’t look like how I wanted them too, and I just can’t help but feel disappointed to not have them turn out how I wanted them too. I know what I have to do for next time, and they definitely aren’t as easy as they look! This weekend I’ve decided to try and make Macaroons, so hopefully they’ll turn out better than these.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Chelsea x

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Bananas are so Appealing

As I was scrolling through recipes online, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to bake this week. I had my heart set on cake pops, but being so close to payday, and Livin’ La Vida Broke-a, the ingredients for cake pops were too much. Speaking to the girls at work too, they helped me come to the decision, to make a Banofee cupcakes with cream topping and salted caramel sauce. In other words… heaven in a cupcake case.

Baking is my happy place, and recently I’ve had a few falling-outs with my recipes. They haven’t been going right at all! It’s made me feel quite disheartened but I didn’t want to give up.. I just wanted to stop with the American recipes! I turned to one of my favourite sites that has never failed me… BBC Good Food.

I started my measuring out my ingredients. I had to find ground cardamom but today of all days, every person within the PO postcode clearly wanted ground cardamom.. so Tesco has sold out. I spent a good half an hour pealing and de-shelling cardamom pods, ready to grind down to a powder. Clever as this was cheaper? Or plain stupid because I could have gone to a different supermarket instead?

Anyway, all ground together, I started to combine the ingredients.

I started with my eggs and golden caster sugar. I definitely prefer to bake with golden caster, it adds a lovely light brown colour and I feel it makes the cakes more delicate. I also added the butter, I normally just put my butter in straight from the fridge, but the recipe said to melt it, and add it to the mixture into a stream. I’ve never used melted butter into a cold mixture before, but I’m definitely converted to adding my butter like this now!

Finally I added my banana and yoghurt mixture, to the butter egg and sugar mixture. I alternated this with the flour mixture. I was worried I didn’t have enough banana in my mixture, but after a quick taste, they definitely had enough banana in! Hopefully the banana stayed after it had been baked. No we are ready for the oven!

Now, the recipe said 25-30 minutes… I can assure you, you really don’t need this long! More like 18-20 minutes. I’m really disappointed at the colour on top, as some of them look a bit crisp, but I’m hoping this is just the colour of baking, and now because they’re overdone, as that will mean they’ll be dry.

As always, before I do the icing, I pull apart a cupcake to see if it’s baked, and how it tastes, so I don’t waste what I’d used to make the topping.

Fast forward to the next day. The topping uses fresh bananas and whipped double cream, so I didn’t want to do the topping too far in advance, and risk the bananas going black and the cream running.

I started off my making the salted caramel sauce topping, this started off relatively easy… until it came to adding the sea salt. I apparently shook the salt shaker too hard… and well, I’ll let the photo tell the story.

All these flavours, and it chose to be salty. I have never scream SHIT, so loudly before. I thought I could scoop all the salt out before it melted and combined and well.. no. I thought I’d try a bit and:

^photo footage of me. So I started again, and decided instead of shaking the salt, I’d pinch the salt and channel my inner salt bae.

Then I whipped the cream, and folded in the yoghurt into the cream. I also chose to add some vanilla bean paste, to get a slight hint of vanilla flavouring into the topping cream. It then came to assembling the cakes and my favourite part… the end product and taking the photos!

And here we have it! Banoffee cupcakes, with cream and salted caramel sauce. These have been a hit at home, and hopefully a hit at work too!

Have a good rest of the week, and I’ll be writing another post soon!

Chelsea x

Baking, Cakes, Uncategorised

The Devil Wears Red Velvet

There’s just something I love about making a Red Velvet cupcake. How something that seems so complex, is really rather simple. I’ve linked one of my favourite cupcakes to one of my favourite films The Devil Wears Prada. I wish I was as sassy as Miranda Priestly in this film! I think the Red Velvet is something that seems rather devilish. Not only because of its colour, but also, it’s something that you can indulge in, something so moist and chocolatey. I always thought this bake was well beyond my capabilities when I first started baking, but really it’s quite simple! I decided to up the complexity by using gluten free products, and also an American recipe. American recipes always seem to have their measurements in cups. This is completely out of my comfort zone, as anyone who knows me, knows I HATE baking this way! I find it very slapdash and not very accurate.

Still, I’m up for giving anything a go! I started off my mixing together my sugar and butter. This went EVERYWHERE. I’m not even joking, up the cupboards, across the walls, inside every nook and cranny in my kitchen! I’ve now learned to cream the butter by itself, and slowly add the sugar, to avoid this mess. I then added my three eggs.

At this stage, the recipe says to mix the cocoa powder, the vanilla extract and the red food dye into a bowl separately, then add into the butter mixture. The cocoa powder was not very forgiving and was too dry to add the dye into. So I decided to combine these into the butter mixture separately. Otherwise I could have added too much red dye and changed the texture, taste and consistency of the mixture completely.

At this point I began to worry, as my mixture looked so thick, and cake mixture shouldn’t be thick! I thought about jacking it in and starting again, or just forgetting about the idea of this bake completely. Then I remembered I forgot to add the buttermilk!

After adding this, and the red food dye, the mixture was still thick, so I added some milk, just a tiny amount, because you can always add to the mixture, but never take away. I was very happy with the colour as that’s what is so eye catching about a red velvet cupcake.

Finally ready for the oven! The recipe says 17 minutes to bake, but I found they needed much longer. Whether this is because I had it on the bottom shelf, or too much in the oven, I’m not entirely sure, but I do know, no one likes under baked cakes!

Freshly baked and straight out the oven! I am slightly disappointed by the colour of them after they’re baked, I was hoping for a bright red. I think this means I used too much cocoa powder. Hopefully they’re more red on the inside. This is the reason I like to pull apart one of the cakes, see how it tastes, the texture and the colour.

The finished product:

For the frosting, I made a simple cream cheese frosting. This consists of vanilla extract, Philadelphia cream cheese and icing sugar. It brings it all together!

I hope everyone enjoyed this post, have a great week!

Chelsea x

Baking

Rolling in the new year with a Fresh Start

So it’s been a while since I’ve wrote anything on my blog. I’ve had a few steps to overcome recently. My lovely and beautiful Mama passed away, I had a job which I had to desperately get out of, and then I started my new job. I also celebrated my brother and sister-in-laws wedding. So to say it was a busy end of the year, was definitely an understatement!

Anyway, happy new year! This year I’ve vowed to concentrate more on my blog, and further my baking skills, by trying new and exciting recipes. I recently tried some Gluten Free bakes and I’m pleased to report these were a success!

Kicking off the new year, I popped round to my boyfriends house (where I spend 99% of my time) and we decided to cook dinner for his parents. Josh and his family always make incredibly delicious dishes, and have a lovely collection of cook books. I offered to make desserts and Kirsti asked if I’d like to try a mousse from Tom Kerridges cook book “Fresh Start”.

Looking at the recipe, I was shocked to see Avocado in a chocolate mousse! Avocado is savoury, and goes well with Salmon. Still, I love to have a go at new things, and I feel this could quickly become a favourite!

Starting off, we popped to Tesco, and found some lovely fresh ingredients. We didn’t buy the Macadamia or Pecan nuts stayed in the recipe, as it was almost £5 for a very small bag of each! Carefully selecting the ingredients, to ensure the avocados and bananas were ripe, and also finding alternatives to the expensive nuts, while also making horrendous puns about different foods.

Back at Josh’s house, he started to make the jerk chicken dish, with rice and sweet potato hash. I thought I’d get started on the dessert, so we could be finished at roughly the same time.

I started by chopping the bananas, and scooping out the avocado. Josh suggested I use a NutriBullet mixer instead of a food processor, as it’s quicker, less time consuming, and easy to use.

All packed in, I started to feel like I had forgotten something, but double checking the recipe, it was all in there. Vanilla extract, orange extract, avocado, banana, orange zest, dates, milk, cocoa powder and maple syrup.. It was definitely all there! Turning on the NutriBullet, it was all combined within seconds.

I popped the mousse into a sandwich bag, and started piping into some glasses. This recipe serves 8, so don’t be fooled by the quantity that is there! The mousse is very rich, so you don’t need a lot in a bowl. I then got the substitute nuts (we used cashews) and started crumbling them, chopping them into small chunks.

The recipe was finished off by a sprinkle of nuts on top of the mousse, with dark chocolate savings on top, and some sea salt flakes lightly sprinkled over the chocolate. The salt mixed with the sweet, made a real flavour explosion, and paired together beautifully.

Obviously, I needed to take a good picture, to showcase the mousse. This is definitely where Josh came in handy, with his hospitality experience and degree.

The finished product:

Both of us said it needed some greenery added to it. Josh has previously worked for The Savoy, as well a Michelin starred restaurant, so he made and popped some lime zest curls onto the mousse, to give it that pop of colour.

I really enjoyed making this dessert! Something so different and simple, made so elegant. Tom Kerridge is an incredible chef, and I’d urge anyone to try this recipe.

I’m not too sure what my next bake will entail, but I shall be looking through the cookbooks over the next week, to find something to make and write about!

Have a lovely week!

Chelsea x

Baking, Cakes

Week 4: Blancmange

Steaming into week 4, this weeks technical was set by Prue Leith. Now I feel like I’ve got a bit of a personal vendetta against Prue after setting the Le Gâteau Vert. I found that technical incredible hard so when I heard she had set this weeks technical I thought “oh shit… she’s out to get me”.

Blancmange is a traditional French sweet dessert, made from milk. It is thought to have been created in the Middle Ages, and some believe it’s due to the result of Asian introduction of rice and almonds in early medieval Europe. It has several other names in different countries. Such as “Biancomangiare” in Italian and “Manjar blanco” in Spanish.

This particular dessert was very popular in the 70’s. Quick and easy and available in powder sachets, to which one would add milk.

This bake is a little bit special to me, as my dad told me my Nan used to make this regularly. My Nan passed away 4 years ago, so the thought of making this had a bit of sentimental value to it. Knowing that my Nan used to make this, made me want to perfect it and make her proud.

So, with my apron at the ready (that my best friend Emma brought me for Christmas) I begin my bake!

Ready to bake

First job was to soak the gelatine leaves. I had to take a photo of these because they look like little stain-glass windows, but without the colour of course!

This was soaked for 5 minutes in water, to get the gelatine flexible.

Next was time to make the raspberries into a purée. Raspberries are my favourite fruit to eat, especially with a bit of yoghurt and honey!

Afterwards I had to strain the raspberries in a sieve, so no pips/seeds were left in the purée. I had a bit of a mare with this part as I used a small sieve and put too much purée in, so it kept spilling over the sides and the seeds kept getting into the mixture, so I had to keep starting over. I then added a whole bottle of some very yummy raspberry liquor.

After the raspberry purée was drained, I then set to adding all the components together. I put the cornflour in a pan with the milk, and brought it to a boil, before adding the powdered almonds, sugar and almond essence.

I then added my raspberry mixture to this after it has thickened up. This is where I then transferred it to a mould ready to set.

With a tubby custard kind of look to it, I’ve put it in the fridge to set overnight. I don’t want a Manon moment where it doesn’t set at all! I feel like this will give it a good chance to set thoroughly. Then I will make the Langues de Chat biscuits in the morning, so they don’t go soft (and no one tries to eat one!).

In the morning

My blancmange looks like it’s set very nicely! I have left it in the fridge until I am ready to assemble, once the biscuits are ready. This was the stage I realised no where near me sells crystallised rose petals, and I was not driving 20 minutes to the nearest Waitrose… no way! So I popped round the corner to our local florist, and thought I’d make my own. I coated the petals with some pasteurised egg whites and then covered them in granulated sugar. I popped them in the fridge to speed up the setting process, as I didn’t want to wait til the next day again, to assemble the dessert.

I have never made a biscuit with icing sugar before, so I was really interested to try this for the recipe! I wish I had drawn a line to follow before I put the Langues de Chat in the oven, as they’ve turned out a bit wonky! Never mind the shape, I’m actually really impressed with how they turned out!

Time to assemble

I had finished everything, the rose petals had crystallised and the blancmange has set! Success! Now, this was the point that Prue’s last challenge went tits up… so fingers crossed!

The Blancmange had set beautifully! Melting slightly when I put the mould in hot water, so ease it out, but it still has that signature wobble. I really enjoyed making this dessert, and feel like the score between Prue Leith and myself is 1-1! Let’s hope this success continues!

Recipe: https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/raspberry-blancmange/

Have a lovely week!

Chelsea x

Baking, Cakes

Turkish Delight

So, I suddenly found myself with a lot of free time this week. I’ve been thinking about going to farmers markets and selling the Jam I make, as well as some bakes. It’s a nice way to earn a bit of extra money, doing what I love… plus I need the practice!

I decided to make some Turkish Delight today. This is one of my all time favourites and reminds me of Christmas. I always used to get a small box of rose flavoured Turkish delight for Christmas, almost my idea of heaven!

Turkish Delight is also known as Lokum. The Turkish Delight/Lokum was first discovered in Turkey (hence the name!) in what is thought to be the 1700’s. Today, this yummy sweet treat can be made in a variety of different flavours, Orange, lemon, pistachio and also pomegranate. I decided to try and make Rose flavoured Turkish Delight.

A traditional Turkish Delight recipe involves lemon juice, cornflour, cream of tartar and a lot more hard work! I fancied something quick and easy, while I prepared for a meeting. So I substituted some of the ingredients for gelatine leaves instead.

Recipe

  • 8 leaves of Gelatine – you can also use powder too. One pack of 12g powder equals to 4 leaves of gelatine
  • 300ml of water
  • 500g of caster sugar
  • Rose water – only a few drops!
    Pink food colouring – again only a few drops!
  • To start, put the 300ml of water into a pan and bring to a low heat, and add the gelatine leaves. Let this bubble down for 5 minutes, making sure all the gelatine is dissolved. Then add the 500g of caster sugar, ensuring this is completely dissolved. Then bring this sugary mixture up to boil, before leaving it on a low heat again, for 20 minutes.
  • Afterwards, take the sugary, gelatine mixture off the heat, and add your rose water and food colouring. Then transfer this to a small tin that has been oiled.
  • Leave to cool overnight in room temperature, do not put it in the fridge! I have covered mine with cling film, so nothing can land in or on the Turkish delight mixture. I’ve made sure I’ve left a note to tell people to leave it alone too… otherwise who knows who might tuck into it!
  • After this has been left to set over night, you will need:
    • 2 level tbsp of icing sugar
      1 level tbsp of cornflour

    This is to cover the Turkish delight. Put the cornflower and icing sugar together and put it through a sieve, onto a plate or a board. Then using a damp knife, cut into the desired size. I’ve chopped mine into small cubes, and it’s made roughly 36 pieces.

    You then want to ensure all sides of the Turkish delight are covered with the sifted cornflour/icing sugar mix. To store these, you can put them in a small box lined with baking paper, with a dusting of icing sugar.

    The pieces I’ve made are a little bit small, but I chose to use a larger tin. Next time I’ll be using a smaller tin with deeper sides, to get the trademark square of a Turkish delight.

    Let me know if you try this recipe! I’ll be back to my usual technical blog after bake off this evening.

    Chelsea x