Sugar Cookies

hello kitty sugar cookies!

Hello kitty sugar cookies

My end of semester assignments and the holidays have kept me pretty busy over the last few weeks, so I have unfortunately neglected my blog, but not my baking! As you can imagine there has been a lot of cooking and baking over Christmas so I have a lot to share. The first of which being these really addictive Sugar Cookies (seriously, we demolished them). One of best friends bought me Hello Kitty cookie cutters for Christmas, she knows me so well! So a few days after Christmas we put them to good use.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of butter (room temp)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees c
  2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and baking powder
  3. In a separate, large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients.
  6. Leave to set for at least an hour in the fridge (covered in clingfilm)
  7. If you are not cutting shapes, roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and place onto a baking tray lined with clingfilm.
  8. If using cookie cutters then roll out the dough and cut shapes out that are around 1 inch thick.
  9. Bake for ten minutes or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
  10. Decorate however you wish
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its mince pie season

Mince Pies

Image Credit: Odlums

Yes, Tis the season for mince pies! But how do you feel about them? I’m extremely picky when it comes to mince pies, I only like homemade ones, simply because I think there’s a drastic difference in taste and all round quality. So I’m giving you the best recipe I know, which of course is Odlums mince pies.

Ingredients:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 100g packet of ground almonds
  • 125g margarine (room temperature)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • A little water, if necessary

Filling:

450g homemade mincemeat (Odlums recipe says to use a pre-made jar but homemade is always tastier)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease the bun tins.
  2. Put flour sugar and ground almonds into a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Rub margarine through dry ingredients. Add the egg and water, if required, and mix to soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead.
  5. Cover in clingfilm and put into the fridge until ready to use. (the pastry will keep for three days)
  6. Roll pastry on a floured board and cut rounds with a cutter to fit the greased bun tin.
  7. Put a teaspoon of mincemeat into each and using the remaining pastry, Create a lid to put on top.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pies start to go golden-brown.

My Take On The Classic Rocky Road

Odlums Rocky Road

 

Image Credit: Odlums

Almost everyone loves the chocolate-y goodness that is the Rocky Road Bar. I’m obviously a part of the majority, but I slightly tweaked the recipe which I got from Odlums website, to suit my taste. Maybe you might prefer it as well. I put my adjustments in brackets next to the original ingredients.

Ingredients: 

  • 125g /4oz Butter
  • 2 Heaped tablespoons of Golden Syrup
  • 150g Milk chocolate (Galaxy)
  • 150g Plain chocolate (Galaxy Honeycomb)
  • 125g Digestive Biscuit, roughly broken (Oreo cookies)
  • 125g Rich Tea Biscuits roughly broken
  • 50g Nuts (Hazelnuts)
  • 50g Maltesers
  • 125g Mini marshmallows

Method:

  1. Line a 19cm/7″ square tin with grease-proof paper or clinging.
  2. Melt the butter, syrup and chocolate together on a low heat.
  3. Add the biscuits, Nuts, Maltesers and marshmallows. Mix well.
  4. Transfer to prepared tin. Level it on top and press down well to avoid any air gaps.
  5. Allow mix to harden before cutting into bars. Store in the Fridge.

 

All Things Meringue

Meringue

Image Credit: Created by Diane

Meringue can be tricky sometimes, so I hope these tips and tricks will help anyone trying to make the perfect meringue.

  • To prevent your meringue from ‘weeping’, add 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch to each tablespoon of sugar before adding to egg whites. ‘weeping’ is when there is too much moisture in your meringue, This causes droplets of water to appear all over the meringue which is not ideal and should be avoided.
  • When making meringue pie, Turn off the oven and open the oven door slightly when the meringue has finished browning and let the pie cool slowly in the oven. This will prevent the meringue from cracking and weeping.
  • To remove meringue shells from their baking paper, slightly moisten the underside of the paper with cold water. Slide a spatula carefully under the meringue and it should lift off easily and in one piece.
  • To achieve a high meringue, add a pinch of baking powder to the egg whites before beating them.
  • Try and use eggs that are three or four days old, as thin older egg whites whip more easily to a higher volume compared to thick and fresh egg whites.
  • Avoid making meringue on humid days. meringues are mostly air, and if moisture gets in, it will have an effect on the end result.
  • cold eggs separate easier than eggs at room temperature.
  • Make sure that no yolk or fat gets into the meringue as it will destroy it. Fat interferes with the formation of good foam.
  •  To separate, crack the egg and hold the shell halves over a bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl. Do not cut the yolk (whites containing any yolk will not beat properly). Transfer the yolk to another bowl.
  • A beaten egg white can foam up to 6 or 8 times its original volume if the egg whites have been at room temperature for 30 minutes before beating
  • Beat in the sugar at the end rather than at the start. Adding the sugar at the start can add double the whipping time. Add the sugar in at the end when the meringue has soft peaks.

 

The Dreaded Tempered Chocolate

Tempering Chocolate

Image Credit: East Village Kitchen

It’s not until you start baking quite often that you realise the importance of knowing how to temper chocolate properly. It still taste great when it’s not but the texture and visual side of things is noticeably different.

When you buy chocolate in the shop it is already ‘in temper’, which means that all the fat crystals are aligned to give it that shine and really nice snap!  So when you melt this chocolate, you are taking it out of temper.  The heat causes the fat molecules to get all jumpy and if they aren’t realigned correctly, you get what’s called “bloomed Chocolate”.

So I’m posting up how to temper chocolate correctly. I hope it helps!

All you need is: A pan, Chocolate and a thermometer.

  • Rest a large bowl over a pan that is filled with 1 inch of water.
  • NB: Ensure the bowl is an inch away from the water to ensure that the bowl is definitely not touching the water
  • Used chopped up chocolate as it melts better and evenly.
  • Get a silicone spatula to use for stirring.
  • Bring the water to a simmer. It is very important that the water is not brought to boiling point. The chocolate needs to slowly melt in order for it to temper properly, so leave it at simmering only.
  • Stir chocolate continuously as it completely melts
  • NB: A single drop of water will destroy our chocolate completely so be very cautious as to not let this happen
  • Bring milk chocolate to 45oc and If using dark chocolate bring it to 48oc
  • Once completely melted remove the bowl from the pan of water and wipe the steam from the bottom of the bowl.

And there you have it, you should have lovely tempered chocolate. enjoy!

All Things Cupcake

Following my ‘All Things Cake’ Post, I am now posting my useful tips that I have gathered for all things cupcake. I hope they help!

  • When that muffin or cupcake just wont budge from the pan, place a cold wet towel underneath the pan for thirty seconds and they will slip right out.
  • To divide the batter evenly when making cupcakes or muffins, use an ice cream scoop to transfer batter from the mixing bowl to the baking pan.
  • You can add water to the baking try of empty slots and it has multiple benefits. It can prevent the cupcakes or muffins from browning on the edges to quick. the extra steam prevents the mix from over cooking. It can also be used to prevent the baking pain from warping when you are not using every slot. Just half fill all the empty slots with water and put in oven to bake as normal.
  • When decorating with icing, It looks a lot better to use a piping bag and nozzle. It gives the cupcakes a more professional look, rather than using a spoon or knife.
  • Always fill your cupcake cases 2/3 of the way full to allow for the mix to rise. over flowing cupcakes and muffins does not look good, although its nice to nibble on the extra!
  • I would always suggest using an electric mixer, as mixing things by hand all the time can be time-consuming and just plain tiring. If the recipe says fold on, then do not use an electric mixer. you must fold it in yourself, either using your hands or a wooden spoon.
  • Sifting is key to light and fluffy cupcakes. as tempting as it may be do not skip this step because it makes a huge difference in how your cupcakes or muffins turn out!

Delicous Chocolate Mousse

Bubbly chocolate mousse

Bubbly chocolate mousse

Image and recipe credit: Dessert.net.au

My all time favorite dessert is a delicious bubbly Chocolate Mousse. While browsing for a mousse recipe last week, I managed to find this gem of a recipe.

Chocolate Mousse
  • 7 oz of milk or dark baking chocolate ( I like to mix it up with my favorite chocolate bars like Galaxy)
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 oz of golden caster sugar
Method:
  1. Place the broken up chocolate and 120 mil of warm water in a large mixing bowl and have it over a a saucepan of (barely) simmering water. Ensure that the bowl is not touching the water in any way. heat the water at a low temperature so the chocolate melts slowly. It should take 6-7 minutes
  2. Remove from the heat, and using a wooden spoon, stir well until glossy and smooth and let cool for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the egg yolks and blend well. Set aside.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to the soft-peak stage.
  5. Whisk in the sugar, a 1/3 at a time and then whisk again untill the whites are glossy.
  6. With a metal spoon, fold a tablespoon of egg whites into the chocolate mix to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest.
  7. The end of the recipe needs patients as the mix needs to be gently folded and cutting movements to retain the air which makes the mousse light.
  8. Place the mousse in the containers you plan on serving them in, cover with clingfilm and put in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Add some Whipped cream on top to serve. I prefer the whipped cream you get in a container as it is the tastiest and really compliments the chocolate mousse.

Following Tradition

Odlums logo

Odlums logo

Image Credit: Business & Leadership

For generations my family have used Odlums recipes. Why? Simply because they have -without a doubt- the best recipes of all time. On the back of their flour, they have recipes for all different kinds of baked goods and my Nanny used to collect all of them. there was never a wrapper thrown out. I’m extremely grateful to her for collecting these recipes, as its something I would like to leave behind for my grandchildren too. Unfortunately she passed away ten years ago, but my Granddad had obviously been paying very close attention to her cooking because  his cooking tastes the exact same. Now he is the one who is teaching me the essential family secrets and tips! Moral of the story is, I would highly recommend everyone to go onto the Odlums website from time-to-time. I know you wont be let down.

All Things Cake

After plenty of research into the best and most useful baking tips,I have finally collected a list of extremely useful ones I have found and collected over the years! This week I am putting up a list of useful cake tips.

  • An easy way to keep your loaf cakes fresher for longer is, when cutting the slices cut from the middle instead of the outside. Firmly push the two leftover sections together to reform a loaf. This  eliminates the dried out, end slice.
  • Even though this next tip might be a familiar one to most, a lot of people don’t use it. For the best cake mix, always let the eggs, butter and milk reach room temperature before using.
  • To cut a freshly baked cake, use a wet knife.
  • If you roll fruit and raisins in flour before adding to a cake mix, It can prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the mix.
  • Use unflavored dental floss to slice evenly and cleanly through a cake or torte. Simply stretch a length of the floss taut and press down through the cake.
  • An apple cut in half and placed in the cake box will keep the cake fresh several days longer.
  • If there is one thing that I hate doing while baking, it has to be waiting for the cake to cool down so I can ice it. To cool a cake quickly for frosting, pop it into the freezer while you make the frosting. By the time frosting is ready, the cake will be cool and ready to slip out of the pan

More to come over the next few weeks so make sure to check it out!