Tag: Christmas

Chocolate Orange Tiramisu

Chocolate Orange Tiramisu

Hello! I hope you all enjoyed a lovely Christmas, or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you enjoyed the general festive spirit floating around the place. With one celebration passed we’re now looking towards New Years Eve and the (hopefully) roaring 20s we’re about to enter into. I’m currently about to head off to the snowy Dolomites of Italy (I’ll post lots of pictures of the food on my Insta stories so stay tuned for that!), but as a result I won’t be throwing a NYE party this year sadly. Nevertheless I thought I’d concoct a little dessert for those of you who might be looking for an easy,  yet stylish dish for any New Year dinner parties going on out there.

This tiramisu you could serve in a big dish or little glasses like the classic tiramisu if you’d like, however I find that it looks so much better plated up like this! For some reason by deconstructing a dessert you can make it look really elegant without too much effort. It also allows you to get all the different elements in the perfect proportions for when eating, with a little left over for anyone who wants a top up!

Recipe

Serves 4-6

Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 2 Oranges
  • 100ml Marsala
  • 75g Dark chocolate
  • 250g Mascarpone
  • 250g Custard (you can use ready made or check out my creme patisserie recipe if you’d like to make your own!)
  • 50ml Coffee
  • 12-18 Sponge fingers
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa powder, for sprinkling
  • A few springs of fresh mint to garnish

Method

  1. Grate the zest from the oranges and leave it on one side for now. Then cut away the peel and pith from oranges and discard it.
  2. Slice the oranges into discs and them pop them in a bowl with the marsala. Leave to soak on one side.
  3. Put the chocolate into a glass or metal bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Leave to melt for about 5 minutes and then set aside to cool a little.
  4. Put the mascarpone into a bowl and whisk to soften it. Add the custard and whisk again until smooth.
  5. Pour half the custard mixture into the bowl of cooled chocolate and mix in 2 tbsp of the coffee until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Add half the orange zest to the remaining custard mix and whisk to combine. Pour the chocolate mascarpone into a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and orange mascarpone into a pipping bag with a round nozzle. Leave both bags in the fridge until needed.
  7. When everything’s ready start to plate up begin by taking the orange slices out of the marsala and leaving them to dry a little on some kitchen roll. Pour the remaining marsala into the leftover coffee and mix to combine.
  8. Dip one of the sponge fingers into the coffee mixture and place it on your first plate. Repeat with two more sponge fingers, laying the on the plate to form a zig zag.
  9. Take the orange mascarpone pipping bag and pipe 3 big  blobs next to the ends/corners of the fingers.
  10. Slice the orange discs into quarters and place them around the plate (I find a mixture of slices laid flat and ones propped upright works well).
  11. Take your chocolate mascarpone pipping bag and pipe 6-7 blobs in the free space, between the orange mascarpone and slices.
  12. To finish off take your orange marscapone again and pipe clusters of smaller blobs in the remaining gaps (groups of 3 work well!). Then take a little extra orange zest and place it on top of the big orange marscapone blobs. Finish with some fresh mint placed here and there and a sprinkle of cocoa powder!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Christmas Wreath Pavlova

Christmas Wreath Pavlova

It’s been a bit of a topsy turvy term and an even crazier year, but here we are – about to say goodbye to 2019 and hello to some hopefully roaring 20s! It’s not been the best year, but it’s been a year and that’s something. I’ve started to look after myself a little more, so even though I still feel like I’m running down hill at least I’m now smiling. I’ve learnt to appreciate the little things – the way the light hits a building, or the sound of rain on the window – and yes I know I sound like an artsy white girl, but it’s true. Our minds have a tendency to dwell on the bad and fixate on things that need to be solved. But looking at what is and what’s been done can be just as important, so that’s something I’m going to try to do more in the new decade.

Right, insightful snippit over. Onto the food. I’ve really missed getting creative in the kitchen, and even though it’s done me a world of good stepping away from this blog for a little while I couldn’t wait to get back to it as soon as I hit the Christmas holiday! I started making another dish (which will be up soon!) and that resulted in a bowl of leftover egg whites on the side which was crying out to be made into a meringue – hey presto! In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure how this ended up like this – I’ve made meringues for years and I’ve never had one this stiff and shiny, but hey – I’ve managed to do it so you can to!

I’m a sucker for a traditional pavlova so whilst you could go more Christmasy on the flavours (see my suggested variations at the bottom of this post) I think you can’t beat the classic vanilla cream and mixed berries so that’s what we’ve got. And besides, with a peppermint-striped meringue and a wreath shape it already looks festive!

Recipe

Serves 8-12

Time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 Egg whites
  • 110g Caster sugar
  • Red gel food colouring (optional)
  • 300ml Double cream
  • A handful of frozen mixed berries (I went for blackcurrants, raspberries and blackberries)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh mint to garnish

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 110C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take a circular object (a plate or cake tin lid works well), put it on the baking paper and trace round it with a pencil to make an outline. Turn the paper over on the baking tray so the line is on the underside and then set the lined tray to one side.
  2. Put the egg whites into a spotless bowl (a metal bowl is best here and it’s the easiest to get grease-free). Whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form.
  3. Continue to whisk and add the sugar to the egg whites 1 tbsp at a time until completely combined and the mixture is stiff.
  4. Fit a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and then prop it up right by putting it into a pint glass. Take some red gel food colouring and brush it in lines up the inside of the pipping bag (I find a table knife is good at this).
  5. Spoon the meringue into the piping bag and then squeeze it down to the bottom until it’s just about to come out.
  6. Pipe small blobs of the meringue onto the baking paper, around the line you drew earlier to make a ring. Then pipe slightly large blobs in a ring on the inside and outside of the one you’ve just pipped. Bake the meringue in the oven for 1-2 hours until crisp on the outside. Then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool completely in the oven (this will prevent it from cracking).
  7. Meanwhile put the cream and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it just starts to hold it’s shape (any more and it’ll go over when piped).
  8. Spoon the cream into a pippin bag and leave in the fridge until needed.
  9. Take the cooled meringue out of the oven and place it on a serving plate/board. Pipe blobs of the cream along the inside ring of the meringue wreath.
  10. Scatter some berries over the cream and then finish with a garnish of mint!

Alternatives to try:

  • Whisk 1 tsp Brandy into the cream and then top with fresh cranberries and orange segments instead of the mixed berries.
  • Whisk 1 tbsp cocoa powder into the cream to make a chocolate cream topping (this works well with fresh strawberries!).

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Christmas Mug Cake

Christmas Mug Cake

I’m a little late in posting this one – I got to that point in the holidays where I forgot what day it was! That sounds a bit like bliss: getting so lost in time off that you forget where you are, but for control-freak me it’s more of a sign that I’m spiralling downwards. I’ve been really lucky that since going to Uni I’ve been feeling fairly stable and happier than I have in a long time, however since coming back home things have been roller-coasting like crazy. It feels a little weird writing about it here as I know this content gets out to friends and family more than anyone else, and this isn’t something I’d normally discuss with them, but when I changed the angle of this blog I said I’d be more open about my mental health and so I guess that’s what I’m doing.

I know I’ll be ok, and I know this is just a phase, but anyone who’s been in this position themselves knows that it doesn’t make living it any easier. At the moment I have very little motivation to do anything, but I’m lucky that I used my normal crazy energeticness before to make some recipes I could use for times like these. So I made this a while ago, and I also wrote a long post on our Christmas cake tradition in my family, however it feels like a bit too much of a jump between what I wrote then and what I feel is appropriate now to write. But here we go…

Does anyone else have that thing where the Christmas cake is made in October, fed till December, and then eaten slowly until August? Every year we have the panic in our family of hitting December 23rd, realising we don’t have a cake, having a debate over if we do make a cake whether anyone would it eat it anyway, concluding no one probably would, then making one. And alas, it gets picked at over the following months, just to get finished off late August so we can have a few Christmas cake free months before the cycle repeats.

Now I love Christmas cake, I really do, but at Christmas. The spices, fruit and marzipan in a cake just seem out of place when eaten un-surrounded by Christmas trees and mistletoe. So I decided to bring the essence of the Christmas cake into a mug cake so it’s super easy to make, doesn’t require too much forethought and serves a single person! All the spices, all the fruit, all the booze and even a chunk of marzipan in the middle, but none of the paph and palava.

Recipe

Serves 1

Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Brandy
  • 1 tsp Dried cranberries
  • 4 tbsp Raisins
  • 4-5 Dried Apricots
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • ½ tsp Mixed spice
  • ½ tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Self raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp Glace cherries (about 5-6)
  • 2 tbsp Almond, roughly chopped
  • 25g Marzipan

To decorate

  • 1 tbsp Icing sugar, mixed with ½ tsp water
  • 1 tbsp Apricot jam (optional)

Method

  1. Grease a 350ml mug with butter.
  2. Put the butter, brandy and fruit into a mug and microwave for 10-20 seconds until melted.
  3. Add the egg, sugar, spices, and vanilla and beat together with a fork.
  4. Add the flour, salt, cherries, and almonds to the mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Roll the marzipan into a ball and push it into the centre of the cake.
  6. Cook the mug cake for 3 minutes until it comes away from the sides of the mug slightly and is cooked through.
  7. Brush the cake with the apricot jam and then decorate with the icing and water mixture. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Nutella Viennese Biscuits

Nutella Viennese Biscuits

I think there’s something very British about biscuits. We’ve got to the point in our culture where we have very little cuisine we can call our own other than that which we’ve appropriated from other cultures. But for some reason the hearty biscuit with a good cup of tea feels well and truly British. That said, alas, one of my favourite biscuits is the crumbly almighty Viennese biscuit, which guessing by the name is Austrian. I first came across these when I made them at school way back when. I remember them being a pain to pipe as the mixture was so solid, but they tasted divine. The other day I was re-acquainted with these in Sainsburys, this time sandwiched together with some chocolate, and I was reminded of just how good they are!

These are kind of like a more crumbly, lighter shortbread smothered in chocolate and hazelnuts – kinda like the biscuit equivalent of that perfect friend who not only is perfect but is also really nice so they’re impossible to hate. Simply put, these look amazing, taste incredible and have a texture to die for. As long as you don’t over work the mixture they’ll be as crumbly as an archaeological dig through a wet sand pit. They are a little hard to pipe to begin with, but persevere and the mixture will eventually warm up enough to pipe smoothly. If it’s really hard to begin with you might need to use scissors to chop the sticks of dough off the end of the pipping bag! I used Nutella in these as I was looking for something tasty and sticky to act as a ganache substitute in the middle (as I really didn’t want to have to bother with making something else to sandwhich them with) and it worked so so well!

Recipe

Makes 24

Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 200g Butter
  • 50g Icing sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 200g Plain flour
  • 2 tsp Cornflour
  • ½ tsp Baking powder

For the filling

  • 4 tbsp Nutella
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 50g Chopped hazelnuts

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Take a ruler and draw 24, 6cm lines on each sheet to act as your guides for later. Then turn the paper over so the lines are on the other side.
  2. Put the butter and icing sugar into a large bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla and whisk again to combine.
  3. Add the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the mixture until everything’s combined.
  4. Spoon the dough into a pipping bag with a star shaped nozzle and pipe lines of the dough, using your lines you drew earlier as a guide.
  5. Put the biscuits into freezer for about 10 minutes to set the shape. Then bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes until pale golden and slightly crispy. Leave the biscuits to cool.
  6. Spread or pipe a little of the Nutella over the base of half the biscuits. Then sandwich the covered biscuits with the non-covered biscuits.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Dip the edge of the biscuits in the chocolate and then dunk the biscuits in a bowl of chopped hazelnuts. Leave on some grease-proof paper to set and repeat with the rest of the biscuits.

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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Mince Pie Bread Snowflake

Mince Pie Bread Snowflake

As you can see from the photo below, baking in a little student kitchen is more problematic than my little naive brain could have ever thought of. Before I got to uni I went on a full out shop, buying everything (within reason) I thought I would need to be ready to cook at uni. Oh boy was I wrong. Lacking in scales, space, ingredients and an oven big enough to actually fit the loaf of bread I made it was a wonder it came out looking like this and not a blob on a plate. I even resorted to using a golden syrup bottle to roll out my dough before realising I had a rolling pin after all (fyi, a bottle that has a curvy shape may be pretty but does not function as an effective rolling pin!).

Anyway, a bit of guessing with the measurements, some careful squishing onto the baking tray and 4 hours of time I probably should have spent studying later, this beauty appeared from the oven… and was then eaten in about 5 minutes. The two things I love most about baking is sharing the outcomes with others and, of course, the hands on process of making whatever it is. In particular there’s something very therapeutic about making bread and it’s a great way to calm yourself and get out your anger at the same time. I actually made this in the midst of the ‘I have no idea what the hell I’m doing, should I switch to an art degree or will I regret that in three years when I’m living in a cardboard box?!?’ crossroad in my life, and just getting the head space to actually think by doing something hands on was just what I needed at the time. I’m also 98% sure that mincemeat is a mood booster. Shove a jar of that under my nose and you’ll fool me into thinking it’s Christmas so I’ll perk up a lot!

One of the other fun things about making bread is the cool shapes you can twist the dough into! I first came across this way of shaping a loaf whilst watching Bake Off a few years ago. It’s so simple to do and yet messes with everyone’s head so they go ‘ooo, how’d you do that?’. It also makes the loaf really easy to share as each person can  rip off one of the snowflake branches!

Recipe

Serves about 8 hungry students

Time: 1 hour (plus proving and baking time)

Ingredients

For the Dough                   

  • 500g Strong white bread flour
  • 10g Salt
  • 25g Caster sugar
  • 10g Fast action dried yeast
  • 30g Butter
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 50ml Milk
  • Olive oil for greasing

For the Filling/Topping 

  • 350g Mince meat
  • 1 Egg to glaze
  • 150g Icing sugar

Method

  1. Begin by making the dough. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl and mix everything together. Make sure you don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast or you could end up deactivating the yeast.
  2. Add the butter, eggs, milk and 100ml water to the mixture. Stir until combined, adding a little more water if needed to bring the dough together.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
  4. Form the dough into a bowl and then put it into a large clean bowl. Cover with clingfilm and then set aside to prove for around an hour, until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a worktop and knead for 10-15 seconds to knock the air out. Then cut the dough in two, wrap one of the halves in clingfilm and set aside for later.
  6. Lightly flour a work top and roll the first half of the dough out into a circle, about 30cm in diameter. The dough will resist being stretched but keep going and you’ll get there. Transfer this sheet of dough to a lined baking tray.
  7. Spread the mincemeat over the circle of dough, leaving a 1 cm boarder around the edge.
  8. Roll out the remaining dough into another 30cm circle. Brush the edge of the base with a little water and then lift the top sheet of dough on to the base.
  9. Take a knife and carefully trim the circle so it’s neat (using a large bowl or plate as a guide can help). Then cut 16, 10cm long, equally spaced slices into the centre of the bread, but not cutting all the way into the middle. Using a 10cm wide template in the middle so you know where to cut to can help.
  10. Twist each strip over twice, the first one to the right, the second one to the left and so on, until you have 16 alternating twisted strips.
  11. Take two strips and gently squeeze together the tops of the strips to join them together. Repeat with the rest of your strips so you have 8 snowflake branches.
  12. Wrap the loaf loosely in cling film and then leave to prove for about 30 minutes.
  13. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Break an egg for glazing in a small bowl and beat with a fork to break it up.
  14. Brush the egg over the risen loaf to glaze and then bake for 20-25 minutes in the oven until golden-brown and risen. Set aside to cool.
  15. Mix together the icing sugar and just enough water to make a pourable but not runny icing. Transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small round nozzle and then pipe decoration over the cooled loaf. Serve!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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