Author: Emma Hawkins

Bakewell Blondies

Bakewell Blondies

Bakewell (almond + cherry) is one of my favourite flavour combos to work into new bakes, especially as you can get so many different types of almonds and cherries! In these I use almond extract, ground almonds and blobs of marzipan, paired with frozen cherries in the mixture and glace cherries on top! All incased in a fudgy blondie cake, studded with chunks of white chocolate!

Recipe

Makes 12 blondies

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 170g butter
  • 220g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 large egg
  • 210g plain flour
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 75g marzipan, torn into small chunks
  • A few drops of almond essence
  • 50g cherries (I use frozen as it’s cheaper but you can use fresh if you prefer)

To decorate

  • 50g cherries
  • 200g icing sugar

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 9” square tin with butter and baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a large bowl by putting it in the microwave for 20 second bursts. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  3. Add the egg and whisk again to combine. Then add the flour and whisk again to make a smooth batter.
  4. Take the white chocolate and chop it into rough chunks. Then add this chopped chocolate to the blondie mixture. Add the marzipan bits, almond essence and cherries and mix it all together.
  5. Pour the batter into the lined tin. Bake the blondies for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and still a little fudgy in the middle. Leave to cool and then cut into 12 slices and enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Macaroons

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Macaroons

I’ve made macaroons for years but until now I’ve never been able to make them perfectly. They were my go-to bake to use up leftover egg whites and yet they’d always end up burnt, undercooked, lumpy, flat, crackly or dull. But I kept on going, kept on trying different recipes and have finally found one that has worked for me! The ratios of ingredients for the macaroon shells (as well as the design for these ones) came from The Cozy Plum so please do check out their social media and website as they create really amazing content!

So… how do you make the perfect macaroon? This is a question I have been asking myself for years and so here’s everything I did to make them turn out like this. I’m sure some steps are more crucial than others (these are a collation from all the different recipes I’ve tried and all researching I’ve done) but from my experience macaroons are very temperamental and so doing every one of these is worth it to make sure they turn out beautiful!

How to Make the Perfect Macaroons

  1. When learning how to make macaroons stick to  plain, simple shells before you start experimenting with things like colourings and flavourings. You can decorate these plain shells with exciting fillings and toppings once they’re out of the oven, but until you’ve mastered the basic macaroon shell don’t try anything that’s going to complicate the process!
  2.  Grind your icing sugar and ground almonds. I always used to ignore this step because I would just sieve my almonds and icing sugar and think that would be enough – they’re already ground after all. But no. Do this. Get a food processor and give them a good whiz before sieving them. This will help you get the super smooth shiny top to the macaroon; without it the shells will look mottled and lumpy.
    • In addition to this, when sieving the almonds and icing sugar don’t force anything through the sieve with a spoon etc, just tap the sieve on the side to get the finer bits through. Then discard any lumps left in the sieve. If you try to work these through you’ll see coarser chunks falling onto the finely ground bits. These are the bits you don’t want in the mixture.
  3.  Use super clean bowls and beaters. When making macaroons and meringues I always clean my bowls and electric whisk beaters with soap and warm water, and then dry them with a clean tea towel before beginning. If there’s any grease on any of these then when you whisk your egg whites you won’t get a stiff peak.
  4. Folding till you hit the ‘V’. I always thought macaroons were like meringues and were therefore meant to be handled as little as possible. This is true to some extent but when it comes to the folding you want the mixture to be just runny enough that once piped the macaroons will smooth themselves over. This will let you get a smooth, shiny top to the macaroon. So when folding the dry ingredients into the meringue keep folding until the mixture falls off the spatula in a V shape and so that the mixture landing back in the bowl holds its shape for about 5 seconds before disappearing.
  5.  Pipe with guides. Draw some circles onto your baking paper before you pipe, this will help you make all your macaroons the same size so they fit together nicely when filled.
  6.  Pipe, Bang and Pop. This was another tip from The Cozy Plum – once pipped bang the trays on the worktop to burst any of the air bubbles in the macaroons and then go round with a tooth pick and gently pop any of the bubble that have risen to the surface. This will stop them from popping in the oven, which would give your macaroons a rough look.
  7. Rest! – there’s a big debate over whether you need to rest your macaroons or not before baking, in my opinion it doesn’t hurt to do it. By leaving the macaroons at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before baking you get a skin form over the macaroons which then helps to get that smooth shiny top with the bobbly foot round the edge – which is a must-have on any true macaroon!
  8.  Bake to your oven, not to the recipe. Ovens vary massively and where some ovens will cook these to perfection, the same time and temperature in another oven could burn them to a crisp. Therefore it’s really important the first time you make these to keep a close eye on them and take them out when they look ready. This is another reason for making plain macaroon shells the first time you make them as it’s much easier to see when the macaroons are browning/burning and should therefore be taken out of the oven. As soon as they start getting a little colour they should be taken out as they’re close to going over.
  9. Cool, cool, cool – make sure the macaroons are completely cool before you try to handle them or else the centre might stick to the baking paper and you’ll end up with hollow macaroons!

I hope these tips help! If you have any troubles don’t hesitate to drop me a message or email and I’ll do my best to help. Likewise, if you have any top tips that I’ve missed here that work for you  I’d love to hear them so please send them through!

Recipe

Makes 10 macaroons

Time: 1-2 hours

Ingredients

For the macaroon shells

  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 37g egg whites (about 1  medium eggs worth, but work to the weight rather than the number of eggs if you can)
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 35g caster sugar

For the chocolate ganache

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream

For the decoration

  • About 4 tbsp of salted caramel (I used Carnations caramel with a pinch of sea salt mixed in)
  • 50g dark chocolate

Method

  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Take a round cookie cutter about 4cm in diameter and draw circles onto the baking paper with a pencil, about 2cm apart, using the cutter as a stencil. Turn the baking paper over so the pencil marks are on the underside of the paper.
  2. Put the ground almonds and icing sugar into a food processor and whiz for about a minute until the mixture is ground super fine.
  3. Sieve this mixture into a bowl, throwing away any coarse bits left in the sieve (don’t push these through).
  4. Take a very clean metal (or glass bowl) and add the egg whites. (I always clean my bowl and beaters right before I make macaroons or meringues so I know they’re completely grease-free. Any grease on the utensils will prevent you getting volume in the egg whites). Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until soft peaks form.
  5. Add the caster sugar to the egg whites 1tsp at a time, whisking constantly, until stiff peaks form (3-4 minutes should do it). If you want coloured meringues add the food colouring once you reach these stiff peaks and whisk for a little longer to mix it through.
  6. Fold half the ground dry ingredients into the meringue, using a spatula in big confident motions. The add the rest of the dry ingredients and keep folding until the mixture is smooth and leaves ribbons when the mixture is dripped of a spatula (the ribbons should last for about 5 seconds).
  7. Pour the macaroon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle (about 1/2cm in diameter).
  8. Pipe the macaroons onto the baking paper, using the circles you drew earlier as a guide to make sure they’re all the same size.
  9. Pick up one of the baking trays and bang it on the work top a couple of times to pop any air bubbles in the macaroons. Then go around with a tooth pick and pop any of the bubbles that have risen to the surface. Leave the macaroons to rest for about 20 minutes to allow a skin to form over them.
  10. Bake the macaroons for 8-12 minutes until they’re smooth, shiny and a foot has formed around the base. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool completely on the trays.
  11. Meanwhile make the ganache for the filling. Finely chop the chocolate and put it into a heatproof bowl. Put the cream into a small saucepan and heat until just below boiling.
  12. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth.
  13. Pour the mixture into a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and leave in the fridge until it’s just firm enough to pipe smoothly. (Don’t leave it in the fridge for too long or else it’ll set too hard. If this happens try warming the bag with your hands or by placing it in some warm water (being careful not to allow the water into the pipping bag)).
  14. Take the salted caramel and put this into a piping bag and leave in the fridge until needed.
  15. Put the chocolate for the topping into a metal or glass bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Allow to melt gently and then pour it into a pipping bag with a very small, round nozzle.
  16. Wait until the chocolate is cool enough to pipe in smooth lines (too warm and it’ll drizzle out in a wiggly line, too cold and it’ll have set too much to pipe) – you can check this by pipping a little bit over a sheet of baking paper to check how it’s doing. When it’s ready drizzle it over the macaroon shells in random lines. Leave to set completely.
  17. When the chocolate has set, turn half the shells over. Pipe a ring of ganache over these shells and then pipe a blob of the caramel into the centre. Place a macaroon shell ontop of each filled macaroon shell and enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

Bruleed Apricots with Ginger and Almonds

Bruleed Apricots with Ginger and Almonds

It’s been a while since I made a pretty dessert and making this one reminded me just how much I love doing them! This one was inspired by apricots and custard so it’s made up of bruleed (caramelised) amaretto soaked apricots, crème patisserie (aka custard), and chocolate ganache and then decorated with stem ginger, almonds, amaretti biscuits and mint! Because the three main elements (the apricots, custard and ganache) are relatively easy to make this dessert is surprisingly easy and quick to throw together (unlike some of my other pretty dessert plates!). You can also display it however you like – I enjoy getting out the blowtorch and tweezers to make a little crescent shape but it works just as well all thrown into a bowl for pudding!

(Note: I’ve made meringues for this to use up the egg white leftover from making the custard, but it’s a completely optional element to the dessert!)

Recipe

Serves about 4

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the apricots

  • 1 tin of apricot halves in fruit juice
  • 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur
  • 2 tbsp stem ginger syrup

For the crème patisserie

  • 80ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 20g caster sugar, plus 2-3 tsp for the brulee
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 5g plain flour
  • 5g cornflour

For the meringue (optional)

  • 1 egg white
  • 40g caster sugar (ideally the same weight as the egg white, you might need to use less or more sugar accordingly)

To decorate

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp flaked almonds
  • A few pieces of stem ginger
  • 2-3 amaretti biscuits, crushed
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint

Method

  1. Put the apricots and their juice into a bowl. Add the amaretto and stem ginger syrup and leave to soak for at least 1 hour (you could do this the night before if you want!).
  2. Meanwhile make the crème patisserie. Put the milk and vanilla into a saucepan, stir once and bring to the boil.
  3. Separate the egg by rocking the yolk between the two halves of the shell and letting the egg white drip into a bowl below. Put the egg yolk into a separate bowl.
  4. Add the sugar and two flours to the egg yolk and whisk together until fully combined.
  5. Once the milk is heated, remove the pan from the heat and mix around 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture.
  6. Whisk the mixture quickly and then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the milk.
  7. Put the pan back over a medium-low heat and whisk until the mixture thickens.
  8. Pour the mixture into a pipping bag and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, until cool.
  9. Meanwhile prepare the decorations. If you’re making the meringue put the egg white into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk with an electric which until soft peaks form.
  10. Add the caster sugar to the egg whites, 1tbsp at a time, whilst whisking until all the sugar is added. Keep whisking until the mixture hits firm peaks.
  11. Tip the meringue out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Smooth out with a palette knife until it’s an even sheet about the thickness of a 1p coin.
  12. Pre-heat the oven to 120C and bake the meringue in the oven until crisp (about 20 minutes). Turn the oven off and leave to cool completely in the oven (this will prevent them from cracking).
  13. Now make the ganache. Roughly chop the chocolate for the decoration and put it into a glass or metal bowl.
  14. Put the cream into a small pan and bring up to just below the boil. Then pour it on the chocolate and stir until smooth.
  15. Pour the ganache into a pipping bag and leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes, until just set enough to pipe and hold it’s shape. (If the ganache becomes too set you can warm it up in the microwave with 10 second bursts).
  16. When all the components are ready start plating up. Take the apricots out of the soaking liquid and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to soak up the excess juices.
  17. Take 3 of the apricots and place them on a plate so that the hole where the stone was is facing up. Sprinkle a little caster sugar into this hole and then use a blowtorch to caramelise it (you could use a grill if you don’t have a blow torch).
  18. Pipe 3-4 blobs on the crème patisserie onto a plate, making the blobs smaller further away from the apricots to start building up the crescent shape. Then take the ganache and then pipe small blobs in the gaps. Break the meringue into shards and prop them up around the plate by leaning them into the ganache and crème patisserie.
  19. Finish the plate with some flaked almonds, crushed amaretti biscuits, slices of stem ginger and some fresh mint. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

Pride Cupcakes

Pride Cupcakes

These are coming a little after Pride but better late than never! (I made these back in June but I’m a bit behind on writing up the recipes which is why I’m only posting them now!). I don’t identify as LGBTQ+ myself, but I think it’s so important to show support whoever you are, whenever you can – especially at the moment with everything going on! These are a little time-consuming because you have to layer up the colours, but apart from that they’re super easy to make so I’d 100% recommend giving them a go!

It’s amazing how you can get cake looking so bright and colourful but still tasting delicious! I think the gel food colourings really help with this as they help you get super bright colours with only a drop or two. I used to use the bottle food colouring you get from supermarkets and you can end up having to use a whole bottle to get the right colour – which then kicks the balance of ingredients out of whack. I got this pack of 24 food colourings from Wilton for about £24 – which sounds like a lot for food colouring, but it’ll save you a good £3-4 on bottle food colouring every time you want to make something with colour in them and they will last for years! (You also get so many different colours so you can get super creative with your meringues, icings, macaroons, cakes etc!)

Recipe

Makes 12

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 113g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 50ml milk
  • 50g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 65g plain flour
  • 135g self raising flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple food colouring
  • A few tsp of rainbow sprinkles or 100s and 1000s

For the butter cream

  • 120g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C and put 12 cupcake cases into a 12 hole cupcake tin.
  2. Take a large bowl and make a note of it’s weight when empty.
  3. Put the butter and sugar into the bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until pale and creamy.
  4. Add the eggs, milk, yoghurt and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk again to make smooth.
  6. Weigh the bowl with the mixture in (making sure no spoons or utensils are also being weighed!). Take the weight of the bowl away (that you noted down earlier) from the weight of the bowl + mixture so you know how much your total mixture weighs. Divide this by 7 and then put this amount of mixture into 7 bowls (so that you’ve equally divided your cake mix into 7).
  7. Colour each bowl of cake mix differently so you have one each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
  8. Carefully spoon a layer of purple cake mix into the bottom of each cupcake case (about 1tsp should do it, but go until all the mixture is used up!). Then repeat with the other colours in the order of a rainbow, finishing with the red.
  9. Bake the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and risen. (You can double check by inserting a skewer into the middle and seeing if it comes out clean).
  10. Take the cupcakes out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  11. Meanwhile make the buttercream. Put the butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat until smooth. Add the milk and vanilla and beat again until combined.
  12. Fit a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and spoon the icing into the pipping bag. Pipe swirls of the icing on the cooled cupcakes (the cupcakes need to be completely cool before you do this or the icing will slide off!).
  13. Finish with a few rainbow sprinkles and enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

 

Bakewell Traybake

Bakewell Traybake

I’m a bit behind with my recipe writing so apologies for the tardiness on this one! I’m getting into the habit of brainstorming, baking, photographing and then posting on social media, but not so much with the follow up blog posts. When I’m baking I tend to jot down on post-it notes what I’m doing and what quantities I’m using etc, but recently these have ended up piling up in a corner waiting for me to re-visit them! But anyhow – we’re here, and this one is a particular fave of mine. I’ve been making bakewell tarts for as long as I’ve been baking, but I decided this time to make it as a tray bake so it can be easily chopped up and shared around! I’ve used raspberry jam here as I think it’s a nice tartness to pair with the sweet pastry and cake, but you could use any kind of jam you like!

Recipe

Makes 16 squares

Time: around 2 hours

Ingredients

For the pastry (or use ready-made)

  • 175g plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 1 medium egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 5tbsp raspberry jam
  • 200g soft butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 4 eggs, beaten

To decorate

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 25g flaked almonds

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line a 20x30cm tin with butter and baking paper.
  2. To make the pastry put the flour, salt and sugar into a bowl and mix together. Add the cold butter in chunks and cut it into small lumps with a table knife. Then go in with your hands and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (Shaking the bowl side to side every now and then can help bring the lumps to the top).
  3. Press the pastry into the lined tin to form an even layer. Prick the base all over with a fork and then bake for 8-10 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Spread the raspberry jam over the base to make an even layer.
  5. Put the butter, sugar, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, almond extract and eggs into a bowl and beat together until smooth. Pour this over the jam layer, even out to a smooth layer and then bake for 30 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  6. Leave the traybake to cool and then take it out of the tin and place on a chopping board. Mix the icing sugar with 1 tbsp water and drizzle the icing over the traybake. Scatter over the flaked almonds and then cut the traybake into 12 fingers. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x