Tag: How-to-dos

How to Caramelize White Chocolate

How to Caramelize White Chocolate

There’s this new trend in the food-world that I’ve been itching to try for way too long that involves white chocolate getting a bit of a make over – so I thought I should give it a go! I feel like if you were to typecast chocolates, dark is the all-knowing friend who’s super healthy and idealistic; milk is the loving grandparent who’s always there to have a quick chat whatever the weather; whilst white is the super cute but annoying toddler who’s great in small doses and if you’re in the right mood. It’s nice, but a little too sweet and not much else. Well, here’s white chocolate’s chance to shine!

Caramelising chocolate is a really easy process in which you just bake the chocolate on a baking tray, stirring it every now and then until it turns all golden and beautiful. Doing this gives the chocolate a bitter caramel flavour which works really well with the sweetness of the white chocolate. You can then use the caramelised chocolate as you would a normal bar of white chocolate (cookies, ganache, mousse etc!). I’ve found that, whilst the technique is super easy, the type of chocolate you use will have a massive effect on the outcome of the process. If you use cheaper, more standard stuff it tends to come out dry and lumpy – great for cookies and cakes, not so good for mousses and ganache. Therefore if you do want a silky smooth end product you’ll need to use chocolate that has a cocoa content of over 30% (this info is on the back of most bars near the ingredients). I experimented with Sainsburys own brand, Lindt, Menier’s, and Green and Blacks and the Green and Blacks were the only type that came out smooth, so if you have any doubts that’s the one I’d recommend!

(^ this is an example of what you can use your caramelised white chocolate for – coffee walnut teacakes coated in caramelised white chocolate! Recipe going up soon!)


Makes 200g caramelised white chocolate

Time: 1 hour


  • 200g White chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter), roughly chopped


  1.  Pre-heat the oven to 120˚C. Spread the roughly chopped white chocolate on a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper and put into the oven for around 10 minutes.

2. Take the tray out and give the white chocolate a good stir with a spatula until smooth. Then put back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

(^Chocolate after 10 minutes in the oven)

(^Chocolate after 10 minutes in the oven and a good mixing)

3. Repeat this mixing every 10 minutes for the next 30-50 minutes until golden and caramelised.

(^20 minutes in the oven)

(^30 minutes in the oven and ready to use)

3. The chocolate is now ready to use. If you want to store it for another day you can pour/spoon the caramelised chocolate into a jar or leave it to set hard and then wrap it in some grease proof paper to store it as a bar. It can be stored like this for up to 2 months.



So far I’ve used this for two recipes – these delicious coffee and caramelised white chocolate cookies and the coffee walnut teacakes shown above (recipes coming soon!). As far as I can tell though, this will work really well in any recipe using chocolate! You can add it to your favourite cookie recipe like I’ve done here or why not try…

  • Pouring over 200ml warm double cream to make a ganache?
  • Sprinkling it over a cake or mixing it into some cake batter?
  • Making it into some ice cream? (I’ve heard this one is especially good!)

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

How to Make Creme Patisserie (aka custard)

How to Make Creme Patisserie (aka custard)

A little while ago I did my first ‘how to’ which I really enjoyed so I thought I’d do another one. In my normal recipes I tend not to put copious amounts of detail in the method as it’s not necessary and it makes it look too long to work through when scanning, so I’m hoping these longer explanations will be helpful for the more technical dishes which might need a bit more explanation.

As with pastry in my first how-to, creme patisserie (aka custard) is something I used to really struggle with. No matter what I did it always seemed to curdle and split and just die on me which was really frustrating. But after lots of research into how to make it and experimenting with combinations of recipes I found this magic formula, and it’s worked for me ever since!

‘Course you can use powdered or even packet/tinned custard, but trust me, making your own is so much better. Not only do you move away from the shockingly yellow florescence of powdered custard but you get much richer flavour, which can be really important for some dishes. For a list of things you can do with creme patisserie scroll to the bottom of this post where there’s a list of alternatives and links to recipes you can use this in. Trust me once you can nail a good creme patisserie you’ll never go back to the packet stuff!


Time: 20 minutes


  • 250ml Whole milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla bean paste
  • 50g Caster sugar
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 10g Plain flour
  • 10g Cornflour


1. Put the milk and vanilla into a saucepan, stir once and bring to the boil.

2. Separate the eggs by rocking the yolk between the two halves of the shell and letting the egg white drip into a bowl below. Put the egg yolks into a separate bowl.

3. Add the sugar and two flours to the egg yolks and whisk together until fully combined.

4. Once the milk is heated, remove the pan from the heat and mix around 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture.

5. Whisk the mixture quickly and then pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the milk.

6. Put the pan back over a medium-low heat and whisk until the mixture thickens.

7. Pour the creme patisserie into a jug and, if not using straight away, cover with cling-film to prevent a skin from forming.

“Oh no it’s…”

Too runny…

  • Pour the mixture back into a pan and gently heat up again. Whisk constantly and keep it on the heat until it starts to thicken.

Gone lumpy…

  • This is probably because either the flours weren’t whisked into the egg yolks enough in step 3, or because the mixture wasn’t whisked enough when it was being heated through. To solve this  you can try giving it a good hard whisk for 1-2 minutes to break up the lumps. If this doesn’t sort out the problem put the creme patisserie through a sieve and you should have a smooth, silky custard!


  • This happens when the mixture gets too hot and boils, and can also happen when you add certain ingredients like lemon juice or alcohol to the mixture.  When it’s fully curdled it’s pretty hard to save and you will probably have to start again. Before you do though try pouring it into a bowl or different pan and blitz with a hand blender – you can sometimes save it this way!

Taking ages to thicken…

  • Sometimes creme patisserie thickens in a minute, sometimes 20, the trick is to be patient. Even if you have to stand there for 30 minutes whisking on a gentle heat keep going and you will get there. If you’re low on time (or just plain bored) you can try increasing the heat a little, just be careful the mixture doesn’t boil or it can split. In the past I’ve also sifted in a little extra cornflour (around 1/2 tsp) to make the mixture thicken quicker. If you do this, however, keep a really close eye on the mixture as it could go super thick and end up rubbery.
  • It’s also worth noting that the creme patisserie will continue to thicken as it cools down. Therefore don’t bring it to the consistency you’d expect your custard to be, instead bring it to the point where it’s thickened but slightly loose. It’ll then thicken to the perfect consistency within a few minutes of being off the heat.


Why not try…

  • Adding 1 tbsp cocoa powder to the egg yolks when you add the flour to get chocolate custard
  • Adding the zest of 1 lemon or orange to the milk at the start to get a citrus creme patisserie
  • Using almond, coconut or soya milk to make this dairy-free and to add some delicious flavour!

Recipes Using Creme Patisserie

Here’s some of my favourite recipes using creme patisserie, but the uses are definitely not limited to these! Click on the picture to go through to the recipes…


Thanks for reading!

Emma x

Making a Pastry Case

Making a Pastry Case

Lots of people have been telling me that they love m’ blog but that everything looks too hard to actually make. Whist I’m perfectly happy to keep generating eye candy I thought I’d start some step-by-step posts on how to do relatively complicated but really useful things, like making a pastry case.

For years I couldn’t make these and I’d just buy the ready made ones from Sainsbury’s to avoid the disappointment of another soggy bottom or another crust that has shrunk, but alas years of practice has finally paid off and now these are one of my favourite things to make.

So here’s a step-by-step guide of how to make a pastry case, from making the pastry and lining the tin to baking blind and using your new found skill in actual recipes. Here I’m using a chocolate pastry as the recipe I’m posting next uses a chocolate crust, but feel free to use whatever flavour pastry you want.

How to make a pastry case

1. Make the pastry

This is a seemingly simple step but it is a very important one. How you make the pastry will vary between specific recipes but here’s a few top tips:

  • If the recipe says to rub the butter into the flour, begin this process by taking a table knife and cutting the butter up into the flour until it’s too small to keep cutting up. Then go in with your fingers. The warmer the pastry gets the softer it gets and the harder it is to work with, so you want to keep the pastry as cool as possible.
  • On a similar note, add your liquid to the dough gradually. If you add too much your dough will be super soft and hard to work with so you could end up over working the dough which would make the pastry undesirably chewy.
  • Finally make sure you chill the dough. Personally I’d chill it for at least 90 minutes, maybe more. This will help prevent the dough from shrinking and will also harden up any butter than may have melted during the making of the pastry, making it easier to work with.

2. Shape the dough

Take the dough out of the fridge and form into a ball. Sandwich the ball between two sheets of cling film and then squash slightly to make a flattened circle. Most people roll their pastry out onto a floured worktop but I find using cling film quicker, less messy and it saves on flour so why not?

3. Rolling out the pastry

Roll the pastry out between the cling film with large rolling pin into a large circle. Use the tin to see how much wider you need the dough to be and in what direction. The pastry should be about 2 cm wider all the way around (to be able to fit up the sides of the tin with some overhang), and be about the thickness of a 10p piece.

4. Putting the pastry into the tin

Now you’re going to have to get physical. Take the top layer of cling film off the pastry and discard it. Then ease the forearm of your less dominant hand under the pastry sheet and lift it up as shown above. (You could also do this with a rolling pin if you’d prefer). Then place the tin underneath where your arm is and roll the pastry off you arm and into the tin, making sure that the cling film is on top of the pastry. It’s a good idea to work from one side of the tin to the other, making sure there’s some good overhang.

5. Fit the pastry into the tin

Gently ease the pastry into the shape of the tin so that is has contact with the whole of the tin. This will help it to bake evenly. Then take the layer of cling film off the pastry.

6. Trim off the excess

Some people prefer to do this once the case has baked as it helps stop the pastry from shrinking away from the edges too much, but for tarts I think the best way to do it is like this. Make sure all your pastry is fitting snugly into the tin. Then take your rolling pin and roll it around the top of the tin so that the excess pastry is rolled off.

7. Using the excess pastry

Bundle up your excess pastry. You can use this to fill in any gaps in your base at this stage, or if any cracks appear after the first bake, so don’t throw it away! You could also use it to make pastry decorations, or even make cute little biscuits!

8. Blind baking

Blind baking is where you pre-bake the pastry case before adding the filling. This helps to make sure the base is cooked all the way through and stops you getting a soggy bottom! Some pies and tarts don’t need to be blind baked (pies with tops and bakewell tarts are two that come to mind) but it’s a useful skill to learn anyway.

Take a piece of baking paper wider than your tin and scrunch it into a ball like you were going to throw it away. Then un-crumple the paper and line the inside of the pastry case with it. Scrunching it up first should make it easier to make the pastry fit the shape, but still be careful when doing this as you could pull the pastry down from the sides of the tin.

9. Adding the beans

If you bake the pastry case without any filling or weight on it then the base will rise up and leave no room for any fillings. To stop this you can use ceramic beans like these which are re-usable and weigh the pastry down. Alternatively you could use rice, lentils or any other dried pulse to weigh the pastry down, but I prefer using beans as then I don’t feel like I’m wasting food.

Bake the pastry in the oven for 15-20 minutes. This will vary depending on the size and type of tart you’re making but you generally want the pastry to look cooked all the way through (see photo below), even if it’s not crispy yet.

10. Second bake

Once the pastry has cooked all the way through, take it out of the oven and take the beans or whatever’s weighing the pastry down out. Also take out and discard the baking paper. Then bake the pastry for a further 5-10 minutes until crispy but not burnt.

11. Be creative!

Hopefully you should have a perfect crisp pastry case to work with now. You can either stop the baking here and fill the case with things that need to be chilled to set, or you could fill it with mixtures and fillings that need to be baked. Here’s a few of my faves to try…


Baked fillings

Frangipane – This is a cake-type mixture made with almonds. It’s traditionally used for bakewell tarts but it’s also a great base for other types of baked tarts!

Custard – Whilst some custard fillings will just set naturally, some need to be baked, like Portuguese custard tarts. You can really experiment with this type of filling as the custard can be flavoured and customised a lot.

Fruit – Mainly for pies, but also for tarts. Peel and de-stone whatever fruit you like and then either stew it first or pop it into a pastry case raw.

Cold fillings

Jams – This works really well in the bottom of a tart with a baked frangipane or a light mousse over the top as it packs great flavour!

Ganache – The first tarts I made were just chocolate tarts made by pouring warm cream over an equal amount of chopped dark chocolate and leaving it to set. You can also add liqueurs to your ganache if you want to make a boozy tart.

Mousse – It’s slightly untraditional to put mousse in a tart,  but I think a soft fruit mousse can work really well in a pastry case, especially if layered with a jam or jelly.

Creme pattisserie – On the other side of our baked custard tarts are the tarts filled with creme patisserie – a custard that doesn’t need to be baked. This is really good when topped with fresh fruit and berries! (See recipe below).

Recipe suggestions…

Vegan Woodland Pie

Devils Fruit Pie

Bakewell Tartlets

Butterscotch Pear Tart with Blackberry Sauce

Fruit Tartlets

Thanks for reading! If you have any other pastry queries I haven’t talked about here please let me know by leaving a comment below.

Emma x