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Festive Chocolates

Festive chocolates

The festive season will soon be upon us. I do love Christmas and in particular I love indulging in some festive treats. Christmas day would not be complete without certain little luxuries. On my list of must haves I would include; nuts (every kind!) Port and Gin and Tonic for drinks, Chocolates of course and cheese and crackers. I also eat a lot of clementine's, boring as that may sound.

The Cocoa Mester treats that are most in demand around this time are Festive Boxed ChocolatesExtra Chunky Maple Syrup Salted Caramel Nut Bar and Sour Cherry Shards. Try as I might I can never seem to make enough of these! If you wish to order any of these in advance please feel free to use the back order option on the shop page. The festive boxed chocolates won't be available until December so back orders until then will guarantee availability.

For now I'm working hard to get stocks of the bars and shards up for the season a head.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee

Sticky Toffee Pudding; a delicious and comforting treat for this time of the year. Made traditionally with dates incorporated into a rich sponge and served with a butterscotch of caramel sauce on top. I've taken my favourite elements of this dessert and made them into a tasty chocolate with a rich date caramel filling. s. It's part of my Autumn/Winter range as I associate  it  with coming in from the cold and  warming up with  a hot sticky toffee pudding and custard. It's definitely the sort of treat I desire when it's cold outside. This particular chocolate is a favourite for wedding favours and corporate gifts all year round, however it's only available to buy in boxes during the Autumn and Winter months. Winter Wonders Boxed Chocolates

Time for Gingerbread

As the leaves begin to fall and everything turns golden my tastes begin change and long for warm spicy flavours. It's now that I begin to make Gingerbread.

There are two types of gingerbread. One is a soft spongy cake mix and the other a biscuit. For gingerbread croutons I make the a gingerbread cake which is then cut up into squares and baked again until in is completely dry, which creates a crunchy crisp crouton. This technique is inspired by the method used for the classic Italian biscotti which you may have been served with a coffee. This biscuit is traditionally baked in a long squashed sausage form. Once baked it is then cut into thin slices and baked again until all moisture has been removed.

The flavours in ginger bread are, for me, heavily associated with Autumn and the run up to Christmas. I used to work in a large Hotel in London and the Pastry menus on the run up to Christmas would have many sweets, pastries and cakes containing the spices ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.  These spicy aromas would fill the pastry kitchen and I have always connected these particular flavours to this time since.

Back Soon- Gingerbread Crouton Bar

Great British Bake Off; Pastry Week

Great British Bake Off; Pastry Week

Pastry!! I really enjoyed watching this weeks challenge, it also made me very hungry... I like a good pastry. I was sad to see Dan go as he's a fellow Sheffielder. But it did seem to be the right choice.

I can't say I have ever made samosa's, but I love eating them and I liked the idea of doing these in sweet varieties too.  Oh my Goodness the final Challenge did make me want some kind of pie for dinner. Remember when making any of the following pastries; puff, Danish, short or rough puff. You must rest your pastry after forming. Usually it is also advisable to refrigerate in between stages of cutting to create neat pastry that bakes nicely and keeps it's shape.

On the second challenge; choux pastry was one of the elements which phased some of the contestants. It is really important when making the paste that you cook it out in the pan properly before adding the egg into the mix which is the final stage before piping.  Your mix should come away from the sides of your pan as you cook it out. If you don't cook this sufficiently at this stage you will end up with a sloppy mix which will not rise nicely in the oven. It will also not have adequate firmness to create a good shape for whatever you wish to create. It's important also to mention that you must not open the oven door whilst it's baking.

If you wish to learn more about this you can book our patisserie course to have hands on tuition with choux pastry and other patisserie creations.

Patisserie – Class for Two £255

 

Next week is Vegan week which I'm very much looking forward to seeing, vegan meringue here we come.

Brownie Recipe

This is a wonderful brownie recipe, it's the one I always use when I make brownies at home. It uses milk chocolate rather than dark, which may sound a little sweet. However combined with  the light Muscovado sugar which has a slight molasses taste and a little salt it balances very well

Line a deep baking tin approximately 8 by 12 inches with grease proof baking paper and preheat the oven to 150 degree c

First weigh

200g butter

350g milk chocolate

Into a microwavable bowl, melt together using the microwave. Use short 30 second blasts to avoid burning your mixture and stir each time. You can use a bain marie if you do not have a microwave, however take care not to get steam/moisture into you mix (you can cover the bowl with cling film to protect)

Once you have incorporated the two ingredients together ( you should have a shiny ganache like mixture) set the bowl to one side.

weigh

3 eggs

120g light muscovado sugar

into one bowl and into a separate bowl weigh

50g plain flour

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

half a tsp salt

Stir this mix until  ingredients evenly incorporated

 

Now use an electric whisk to whisk egg and sugar mix until the mixture is doubled in volume, this could take 5 minutes or more. It's important to do this as this is the only raising agent in this recipe, there is no baking powder so air is added at this stage.

Next gently fold the chocolate and butter mixture to the egg and sugar mix, taking care not to knock the air out. Then gradually sieve the flour, cocoa and salt in, folding the ingredients in gently.

Once these ingredients are fully incorporated put the brownie mix into your prepared tin and carefully use a palette knife to evenly spread the mixture .

Bake for 30-35min a crust should form on the top and should be firm, not be liquid underneath. Bake for longer if needed.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and only serve when the brownie has completely cooled

Add nuts or chocolate chips for different variations

Great British Bake Off: Bread Week

Bread Week. I do love a good loaf and I was delighted to see enriched dough right at the start. My favourite enriched dough, also easy to make, is Brioche. You can use this mix to make a simple loaf of try rolling into buns and filling with delicious crème patisserie; what ever takes your fancy.

Brioche

500g of Strong Flour

60g caster sugar

30g fresh yeast

6 eggs

300g butter cubed

12g salt

Use a mixer with dough hook attachment. Place sugar, flour and salt into the mixing bowl. Add yeast and eggs to a jug and briskly whisk to mix the two. Turn the mixer on to a low setting and add the egg mix the dry mix. Mix on speed 2(medium) for 10 minutes.

Gradually add butter in slightly softened cubes. Once fully incorporated mix on speed 2 until you can hear the dough slapping on the sides of the bowl as it mixes.

Remove dough from the bowl and place in the fridge in a bowl covered with cling film. Leave over night  for between 12 to 24hours (no more than 24 hours)

Remove dough from the fridge and shape into your desired product. For a simple loaf use a bread tin. Use egg wash to glaze the surface and leave to proof for approximately 1 and half hours. Your loaf should double in size a be slack to the touch (no bounce back).

Egg wash your loaf again before baking. Bake at 200 degrees C for approximately 15mins then turn the oven down to 170 for another 20 to 30 minutes. For smaller buns reduce the baking time to approximately 35 at 170 degrees c.

Allow brioche to cool on a wire rack before serving or filling.

 

Great British Bake Off; Response to Cake Week

Chocolate Cake

Firstly I felt so sorry for the bakers with this challenge! A hot day and tempering Chocolate was just a bit mean of the producers! Even professionals would find this hard. Ideal room temperature for tempering chocolate is 18 to 20 degrees C and people; don't use a glass bowl to temper chocolate in as the bakers did in this episode. The glass will retain heat and heat up your chocolate when your objective is to cool it down.  Instead use a plastic microwaveable bowl .  I thought the contestants did well under these tough circumstance.

So here is one of my favourite Chocolate Cake recipe;

Sponge

3 egg yolks

250 ml vedge oil

250 ml of hot water

100g cocoa powder

525g caster sugar

5g ground coffee

4 eggs whole

10g bicarb of soda

150g Dark Rum

Place cocoa powder, sugar and coffee into a bowl. Pour hot water onto cocoa powder, sugar and coffee whisking as you do. Mix until there are no lumps. Set the mix to one side. Sieve flour and bicarb to another separate bowl and set aside.

You will need an electric mixer or electric hand whisk for this stage.Whisk egg yolks on the highest speed until they are aerated. They should approximately double in volume and have a creamy appearance. Slowly add the oil whilst whisking on the highest speed. Add in very small sections. Do this slowly to avoid you mix splitting. You will basically have a mayonnaise mix at the end of this. process.

Now slowly add the cocoa water mix into the egg mix using the whisk end. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mix a hand full at a time. Make sure to do this slowly, turn up the whisk speed at the end to remove any residual lumps. Now slowly add rum.

Divide you mix between three 10 inch lined cake tins and bake at 150 degrees C in a fan assisted oven.  When the cake is baked you should feel the sponge spring back when you gently press your finger onto the center of the cake. Use a skewer to check the middle is baked if you are still unsure (a skewer should come out clean). Leave your cakes to cool on a wire rack. Cakes must be completely cool for the next stage.

Ganache

Bring 675g of double cream to the boil

Pour onto 500g of chopped chocolate use 50% dark and 50% milk chocolate

Gently stir until you have a smooth shiny ganache mix

Pour half  your mix into a clean bowl and refrigerate, stirring every 5 mins until you have a soft spreadable mixture. Put the other half to one side so this remains liquid form. Use the firmer mix to sandwich your cakes together. Place cake on a wire rack with a tray underneath to catch the excess ganache. Pour the liquid ganache over the cake so there is an even layer coating the cake, you will need to use a step palette knife to even the ganache out. Refrigerate. Once Ganache is set decorate as desired, chocolate shards are my usual preference.

 

 

 

 

 

Great British Bake Off; Biscuit Week

Have you felt inspired by the mouth watering descriptions of the contestants buttery biscuits?

Well I have the perfect recipe for you. I can't lay claim to it as I found it in Michel Roux's book; Pastry Sweet and Savoury (I highly recommend this book, it's a personal favourite). It is the most delicious, buttery and rich biscuit which melts in the mouth . As a base you can jazz this up by adding your own flavours to it. Or you can easily create jammy dodger style biscuits as we saw on the bake off.  This also makes a great biscuit base for millionaire's style biscuit with caramel and chocolate.

Recipe

250g Plain Flour

200g butter cut into small pieces slightly softened

100g icing sugar

pinch of Salt

2 egg yolk

Place flour, sugar, salt and butter into a bowl. Rub in the butter to the dry ingredients using your finger tips.

Add your egg yolks to the centre of your mix and use your fingers to pull the mix from the outside into the middle. Gently work the mix until the mixture is completely incorporated and you have and even dough. Do not overwork.

Gently roll the mix out between two baking sheets (this will make it easier to roll into thinner sheets once you have rested the dough) and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 and a half hours.

Remove from the fridge and roll your sheet of pastry to 2-3mm thick. Place back in the fridge for 10mins .

Use your desired cutter shapes to cut your pastry and place on to a board lined with baking paper. Once cut place the raw biscuits back into the fridge and rest for another 15/20 mins. This will help your biscuits to keep a nice clean shape when they are baked. Place prebaked biscuits on baking trays lined with baking parchment using a palette knife to transfer to avoid spoiling the shape of your biscuit. Bake for approximately 10 mins  150 degrees c for fan assisted and 170 for no fan. Your biscuits should be an even  golden brown on the base.

Cool on a wire rack before adding fillings

 

Return of The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off begins!

It's time again! The return of the Great British Bake Off.  I'm excited to see what challenges this year will bring. I will be  reacting via my blog with any top tips I may have to help aspiring Bakers and Patissieres who want to rise to the challenge at home. There are often simple do's and don'ts for many of the  more technical bakes and confectionery. Once you know the secret this can really help.

 

 

Autumn Treats

Bonfire Toffee

Autumn is approaching and although I am not looking forward to some cooler weather, I am starting to get excited about new flavours and seasonal treats that will come hand in hand with it. For me the sweet treat I am looking forward to making and eating the most is; salted bonfire toffee shards. Although these are not the most visually inspiring of treats they are absolutely delicious. I started to make them last year, tired of chunky chewy toffees I wanted something thin and crisp that I could bite through without spending half an hour trying to get it out of my teeth. So I produced a thin shard dipped in dark chocolate. I found the ratio of chocolate to toffee was perfect for my taste and with a little sprinkle of see salt on top it was spot on.

Perfect for crisp Autumn evenings next to the bonfire or snuggled inside, this is my go to treat for the Autumn.

 

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