Friday, 17 February 2012

Raindrops on Roses

Fondant Roses on Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes

I wanted to make something absolutely decadent cupcakes for my dancing girls. They are gorgeous inside and out, and I wanted the cupcakes to be as well.


The real reason for the cupcakes was that it was Sarah's birthday. She's one of the girls that has been dancing with me for years now and has reached that status in my heart the demands feeding with delicious treats.


It was also a good time for me to practice making fondant roses. 


The cupcakes were supposed to be chocolate fudge, and I don't really think they were. However, they were chocolatey and delicious so I'm happy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

120 g dark chocolate (I used Bournville)
250 g butter
125 g cake flour
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

1) Preheat oven to 165 C. Line two muffin tins with paper liners. You won't need all the holes in the second tin, but you can play it by ear.
2) Place a heatproof bowl on top of lightly boiling water. Put the chocolate and butter in the bowl, and allow them to melt. Then take them off the heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
3) Put flour and sugar into a bowl, and whisk to air and combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat throughly. Stir in the chocolate and butter, and vanilla.
4) Pour into muffin pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes until shiny on top.

They were lovely, but I'm still on the hunt for like crazy chocolate fudgey cupcakes. I'm looking for something soft and gooey and just irresistibly moreish. Let me if you have any ideas!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Croquemsmoosh

Profiteroles

My little everest.. This is only my second time trying these, but I can see thousands more to come. It's a niggle in the back of my mind planning planning planning what I'll do differently next time and what I want to try. I want to make all the different variations of the dough, I want to try custard and cream fillings and I want to try toffee, caramel and all different kinds of chocolate on top.


These are my special something. I first tried to make them for my wonderful Ani's birthday. This is a BIG celebration for us. We always have a get-together, and we all exchange gifts- it's like our own little Christmas. Celebrating Ani with all her rawr and smoochability. Of course, the dish was a complete disaster- my profiteroles didn't rise in the oven! So instead I broke them into little pieces, mixed them with custard, and added the toffee to make one big pudding. Pretty? Not. But amazingly, tingglingly, lip-lickingly, eye-closingly, heard-poundingly, scrumptious? I've had to hire a sky writer to write "YES" in big enough letters.


One of the things I thought of when first making these was that Ane (the custard guzzling thing) would love LOVE LOVE these. I've waited for over a month to make these for her- and finally I had my chance. This time, my profiteroles rose beautifully, the custard was a velvety creamy caramel- like one would describe how Halle Berry looks? The toffee was sticky and super sweet. I actually found this combination really overpoweringly sweet (the toffee would keep kids up all night)- but Ane, the dessert superhero- absolutely loved it. I kept meaning to take photos of her eating these, but completely forgot when we actually sat down to eat- really kicking myself now..


Nigella's Profiteroles
From How To Be A Domestic Goddess

Profiteroles:

350 ml water
150f unsalted butter, in chunks
pinch of salt
200 g cake flour
4 large eggs

1) Preheat oven to 200 C, and line 2 baking sheets with wax paper, silicone or whatever you use.
2) Put water, butter and salt in a saucepan, and heat on medium until the water is almost boiling and butter has melted. While it's heating up, sieve the flour into a bowl.
3) Pour the mixture into the flour, and whisk in energetically.
4) Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and stir on the heat until the dough is nice and smooth, forming a ball and coming away from the sides.
5) Transfer the dough to a bowl, and now beat in the eggs one by one using your dough hook attachment. VERY IMPORTANT: You have to beat the steam out of the dough- I recommend using and electric beater.
6) Put the mixture, which should be pipeable but a bit firm, into a piping bag, and pipe drops onto the baking pans. The should be the side of half an egg.
7) Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp.
8) When you take them out of the oven, make sure to prick all of them to let the steam out. Put on the cooling rack to cool.

Custard:

250 ml milk
250 ml cream
6 large egg yolks
100g castor sugar
30g cake flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tblspn caster sugar
2 tsp water

1) Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan.
2) In the meantime, beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy then add the flour.
3) Add the heated cream mixture to the egg mixture, pour into your saucepan, and heat gently while stirring until it thickens. Add the vanilla extract and set aside.
4) Mix the sugar and water in a non-stick pan, and heat on high heat until the sugar turns brown.
5) Whilst whisking the cream mixture continuously, add the caramel to the mixture.
6) Leave this to cool. Once the profiteroles and custard are cool, cut round holes in the profiteroles bottoms, and pipe in the custard- don't be shy- more custard = more delicion!

Toffee:

6 tblsp Muscovado sugar
4 tblsp castor sugar
100g unsalted butter
300g golden syrup
4 tblspn cream

1) Put all the ingredients except the cream into a saucepan, bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
2) Use about half the sauce to pour over the profiteroles while building a tower- it's so sticky that it does wonders for stablity.
3) Mix cream with the leftover sauce, to serve on the side.

Next time- same custard (am in LOVE with it) but maybe a chocolate ganache topping!!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Adventures with Paprika and a Veggie Treat

Goulash with Cous Cous and Baby Marrow Fritters

I've been trying to play with my schedule to get in some good cooking time. It looks like Tuesdays are working the best right now, and this last Tuesday, as Ralph was working late, I thought I would take on a proper Goulash, and try to make a healthy and delicious side.


I found a good looking Goulash here- now, I know MANY cooks really don't like allrecipes. But I've always taken care to read the comments and take them into account, and I haven't had a flop yet.

As for the baby marrow fritters, I've fallen in love with Smitten Kitchen (again) thanks to a colleague mentioning it recently. These fitters were lovely- not too veggie-like, just naughty enough to pass for healthy while still tasting doughy and scrumptious.

If you read this blog- you'll have noticed that I use the word 'home' quite often. I can't emphasise enough how much that means to me. Especially now. I'm SO in love with our house. It's happy, and beautiful, and it gets better every day. This weekend I planted some flowers in the garden, and I can't wait to see how they turn out once they're nice and settled. 

Part of really making this house a home for me is baking and cooking just as much as possible. I feel like every meal makes this house a home. This one was more special than some. It was this typical home-style lovely spicy stew, which the cous cous soaked up, and the baby marrow refreshed to keep from being overbearing.

Ralph and I both LOVED this, and I shared some with a colleague of mine, who also just loved it- he was biased though- I have found that supper leftovers are an easy winner for people away from home on business trips. It's a definite dish I'm going to make in winter!

One small note though- they dish calls for Hungarian paprika, which I happened to have. However, mine wasn't sweet, and so the final dish was quite spicy. It worked out great for us- we love spicy food. But it might be a problem for others, so either use less paprika, or make sure you have the sweet variety.

Hungarian Goulash

30 ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tblsp Hungarian paprika
1/2 tblsp salt
pinch black pepper
500 g goulash meat
70/80 g tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic

1) In a medium saucepan, fry onions in oil until translucent.
2) Combine paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl, and toss the beef in it. Add the beef to the pot, and brown on all sides.
3) Add remaining ingredients to the pot. Stir, put the heat on low, and simmer for about 2 hours, or until beef is tender. Add salt to taste.

Baby Marrow Fritters

500 g baby marrow
1 tsp salt
1 extra-large free-range egg
black pepper
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Olive oil for frying

1) Preheat oven to 180 C
2) Grate baby marrow into the thinnest strips your grater allows. Mix with salt, and set aside for about 10 minutes. Now, squeeze out as much juice as you can.
3) Now, put the marrow in a bowl, add a little bit of salt. Add the pepper and the egg and mix in.
4) Mix the flour and the baking powder in a separate bowl and mix together. Then mix into marrow mixture.
5) Fry small lumps of mixture on medium heat, flattening with a fork when you put them on. Fry until golden on both sides.


6) Finally, when they're done, put them on a kitchen towel to dry, then put them on an oven try and into the oven for about 10 minutes. They will finish cooking and get nice and crispy.

It was all worth it when Ralph said "This is a proper home-cooked meal" - I mean, there simply isn't another reason why I do this. Now, onto my next project...