Friday, 31 October 2014

Earl Grey Chocolate Torte and Spooky Poached Pears

I really enjoy getting creative in the kitchen at Halloween and have been churning out endless quantities of bat and pumpkin shaped gingerbread biscuits this year. I also love a good blood splattered cupcake or eyeball cocktail. Earlier this week, however, I produced a slightly more grown-up autumnal feast for a few friends and after serving up some delicious roasted pumpkin and feta alongside slow roasted lamb I rounded things off with this lovely chocolate torte.

By using ground almonds instead of flour this deliciously moist chocolate cake is naturally gluten free and a little injection of earl grey prevents the cake from getting too sickly. The original torte recipe came courtesy of BBC Good Food and I only tweaked it very slightly to make it dairy free too (but go check out the original too). I was then inspired by the latest in-store Tesco magazine to decorate this delectable treat with a few spooky poached pears to add to the Halloween spirit. And it proved to be a delectable desert for some semi-sophisticated adults….although I’m sure it would go down with your common spooks and ghouls pretty well too!!



TORTE

2 Earl Grey tea bags
100ml almond milk
250g dark chocolate
200g dairy free margarine
140g ground almonds
6 eggs (separated)
200g caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180°C / 360°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a 22cm diameter, loose-bottomed, cake tin with greaseproof paper ensuring the paper rises above the rim of the tin to allow the cake to rise right up.

Heat the almond milk in a heat proof jug in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds until warm. 

Split the teabags and empty the tea leaves into the milk. Set aside to infuse.

Place the chocolate and margarine in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come in contact with the water). Once melted and fully combined remove the bowl from the heat and add the almonds, egg yolks and cooled milky tea (along with the tea leaves. Stir until combined and set aside.

In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites using a hand blender until soft peaks begin to form. Then add the caster sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy and peaks of the mixture stand on end when you remove the mixer.

Add a large spoonful of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Repeat until all of the egg whites are combined with the chocolate mix, begin careful not to overwork the mixture.

Transfer to the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until just firm (although there can still be a slight wobble in the middle of the cake). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. This can easily be made the day before you want to eat this cake...although probably best to decorate it just prior to serving!

POACHED PEARS & DECORATION

5 Pears (I used conference)
400ml apple juice
200g caster sugar
150g dark chocolate

On the day you are planning to eat your torte place the apple juice and sugar in a pan and place over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Peel the pears and place into the simmering apple juice mixture, allow the pan to bubble away for 15 minutes before removing from the heat. All the pears to cool completely in the syrupy apple juice before you fish them out.

Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted spread the chocolate out on a greaseproof piece of paper laid out in a baking tray. With a little bit of the melted chocolate shape it into disks and small blobs for the scary pear eyes and mouths. Place somewhere cool and allow to set.

CONSTRUCTION

Place the torte on a plate.

Carefully pat the pears dry on a bit of kitchen roll to remove excess moisture. Using a little melted chocolate if necessary, decorate the pears with the discs of chocolate made for their mouths and eyes after removing these from the greaseproof paper.

Arrange the pears in the centre of the torte (using them all to support each other).


Using a large sharp knife slice the remaining chocolate into shards and arrange around the outside of the torte (again securing with a little melted chocolate is needed)…and voila, you are ready to impress your guests!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ginger and Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream

This blog post is going to follow a trend of recent (or as the case may be not so recent) posts, with me apologising for not blogging for months, listing excuses centred around life getting in the way of things, then presenting an ice cream recipe. Perhaps I should just change this to an ice cream blog, it is very apparent that I have more than a slight obsession with the frozen delightful creaminess.

This time around I have modified a basic recipe from the Guardian website injecting a little warming ginger punch and swirl of blackberries to the original recipe. And what is missing from this recipe you may ask…..well there is no cream in this ice cream recipe! A custard base is made just with milk and a little additional milk powder to apparently give ‘volume without weight’.

This ice cream is great served up with a warm autumnal apple crumble, or a fig tarte tatin as I did. You never know I might even get around to posting that recipe sooner rather than later….as long as life doesn’t get in the way too much!!

Oh and I’ve submitted this to Kavey over at Kavey Eats for her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge too.




INGREDIENTS

1 pint whole milk
50g skimmed milk powder
4 egg yolks
90 g caster sugar
Thumb sized piece fresh ginger

250g blackberries (I used fresh, picked from local hedgerows, but frozen will be fine)
50g sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon vodka

For the ice cream base add the milk, milk powder and 2 teaspoons of the sugar to a large saucepan. Peel the ginger, slice into a couple of chunks and add to the milk. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once bubbling reduce the heat and allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes before removing from the heat. Set the mixture aside for 30 minutes to allow the ginger to infuse.

Place the egg yolks (you can freeze the left over egg whites for later use or could try out one of these recipes straight away to use them up; choc chunk cookies, English muffins, chocolate hazelnut ice cream) and the rest of the sugar into a large mixing bowl, and using a hand mixer, whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture if light and airy and has increased in volume.

Reheat the milk mixture until simmering and then slowly pour into the mixing bowl with the egg mixture, continually stirring as you do so. Then return all of the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, again stirring continually until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream tub, cover the surface with cling film (this is to help prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool completely before transferring to the freezer.

After about half an hour remove from the freezer and whizz the mixture up with a hand blender, then return to the freezer. Repeat this process three more times at 30 minute intervals.

Whilst undertaking this freeze-whizz-freeze-whizz process place the blackberries, water and sugar into a small saucepan, place over a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the berries start to cook down. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before stirring through the vodka.


After the final ice cream churning swirl through the blackberry mix. Return to the freezer for a further hour before tucking in.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Tart au citron frozen yoghurt

I can't believe how quickly June has been whizzing by, July is already encroaching and this is the first blog post of the month....oops! Well I will blame a lot of birthday celebrations getting in my way. I have been celebrating one of those birthdays where the age ends in a big fat zero and to be honest I have been milking it as much as possible. As well as many lovely bubble filled celebrations shared with lots of amazingly brilliant friends I also had a great little holiday in Paris with family. And it seems I brought a little bit of Parisian sunshine back to my little corner of Norther Ireland on my return so I have been distracted from blogging in the mean time by a lot of sitting on the patio time! But whilst the sun is still shining it seems appropriate to post (yet another) frozen pudding recipe.

As a warm up to my Paris trip I had a Parisian themed dinner party with friends and to finish off the meal I cooked up a big Tart Au Citron. Another of my friends made some delicious raspberry and strawberry tarts to add to the amazing spread so despite the general deliciousness of the puddings on offer there were a few leftovers. I hate anything going to waste and as I was about to dash off on my holidays I couldn't just leave the tarts in the fridge and continue to graze on them over the coming days so thought I had best bung them in the freezer for a later date. But then I decided to get a little more creative and turn my dessert into another form of dessert...and so was born the tart au citron frozen yoghurt. If you don't have a large quantity of left over tart to bung into this dessert the delicate lemon flavour of the yoghurt mix on its own is pretty delicious. Alternatively swap the lemon curd for maple syrup and stick in apple crumble, or add biscuit or cake crumbs instead....really the possibilities are endless for left over frozen yoghurt varieties.

And Kavey over at Kavey Eats is once again running her Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream this month with a fruity theme so this recipe fits in perfectly over there too.



INGREDIENTS

700g thick Greek yoghurt
100g lemon curd
50g icing sugar
250g tart au citron (chopped into small chunks) - I made mine following Michel Roux's recipe in this lovely book 

Beat the yoghurt, lemon curd and icing sugar together until fully combined. 

Transfer to a freezer proof container and freeze for 2 hours. After 2 hours remove from the freezer and beat the mixture again to brake up any ice crystals forming in the mix. Repeat this, freezing the mixture again for another 2 hours before beating to create a smooth mixture. (alternatively you can just bung the mixture into an ice cream maker).

After 2 rounds of freezing and beating fold the chinks of the lemon tart into the mixture until evenly distributed. Stick the mixture back int the freezer over night and then tuck in and enjoy.


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Dairy Free Malted Milk Ice Cream

The sun made an appearance earlier this week and for a brief fleeting moment it felt like summer had arrived and so I dug out my sandals and started eating copious amounts of ice cream (not that I really need the sun to shine to start tucking into ice cream!). The sun has now done a runner and the sandal wearing has been put on hold...the ice cream eating however continues! And after finishing off my beyond delicious Easter egg chocolate sorbet I needed to stock the freezer back up with something as equally yummy. Luckily at this moment I spotted that Kavey over at Kavey Eats has another round of Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream on the go. This month the theme is Hot Drink inspired frozen treats. Now it just also happens that last week while having a mega Master Chef catch up session I had seen a dish containing a rather delectable looking malted milk ice cream. And although I have never been a massive Horlicks drinker I am a bit of a fan of a malted milk (a.k.a moo cow) biscuit.

And so I set out to make a dairy free malted milk ice cream of my very own. Now this isn't as easy as it may sound as you can't simply mix some Horlicks powder with a dairy free milk alternative as the drinks powder contains dairy. So I had to get a little more creative and used malt extract along with a little cocoa powder to make this ice cream resulting in more of an Ovaltine-inspired concoction. I have to say I was rather pleased with the comfortingly malty end result....and now I have a great excuse to eat ice cream just before bedtime!!!



INGREDIENTS

500 ml almond milk
4 tablespoons malt extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
75 g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of corn flour

Place the almond milk, malt extract and cocoa powder into a saucepan, place over a medium heat and gradually bring the mixture up to the boil.

In the meantime mix together the sugar, egg yolks and corn flour in a heat proof jug.

Once the milk mixture has begun to bubble remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then pour about a quarter of the mixture into the jug with the egg mixture beating thoroughly until a smooth mixture is formed. Then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, place over a medium heat and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, then remove from the heat.

Pour the ice cream into a freezer proof container, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin from forming and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled down transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker...or if like me you don't own such fancy kitchen equipment transfer the container to the freezer. Remove the ice cream from the freezer every couple of hours and blitz with a hand blender to break down any ice crystals that might form and you end up with a scoopable end product. Repeat this three or four times and then leave in the freezer until you require a pre-bedtime ice cream treat.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Vegan and gluten free asparagus tart

It’s Spring and it is asparagus season. Those little stems of green joy are one of the wonders of the seasonal  vegetable calendar that I wait for with eager anticipation as icy and grey winter days turn to less icy (but often still pretty grey) spring days. After indulging in multiple bunches of fresh Kentish (a.k.a the homeland) asparagus last week I was perusing the internet for a little inspiration on how best to use the excessive quantity I had to consume. Usually I am more than happy just to gently steam the stems before seasoning with liberal quantities of salt and pepper and plunging the tips into vast vats of melted butter. But then I came across this divine looking dish over at The First Mess, and so I gave it a go (with a few little alterations as detailed below). The original recipe was described as a pizza, but my base was less doughy and more thin and crispy with a closer resemblance to pastry so I am going to describe this dish as more of a tart. But either way it is a great way to utilise some delicious spring veg and it is gluten free and vegan friendly. So whether you go for the original recipe or have a go at mine hopefully the results will be asparagus loaded and springingly fresh!



INGREDIENTS

200g millet (soaked overnight in water)
80ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Glug olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
Bunch fresh oregano and thyme, shredded
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
150ml coconut milk

1 large flat mushroom
5 asparagus stems, slice in half length ways
Large handful of curly kale
Fresh oregano
Chives

(A few generous shaving of parmesan if you want to go for a non-vegan option)

Serves 2

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.

Place the drained millet, water, olive oil and salt and pepper into a food blender and whizz until a smooth batter is formed.

Take a 18 x 25 cm baking tray, pour on a glug of vegetable oil and place in the oven to allow the oil to heat up. Once heated remove the tray from the oven and pour over the batter, smoothing out with a spatula so that the mixture covers the tray. Return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the mixture has solidified and turned golden in colour. 

Using a spatula carefully flip the base over and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the reverse side of the base is also golden in colour. At this point remove the base from the oven and place to one side and lower the oven temperature to 200°C.

Heat a large pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and the onions and allow too soften and caramelize gently. Once the onion is softened add the garlic and herbs and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the vinegar, and once it has been absorbed by the mixture add the coconut milk. Stir together thoroughly, increase the heat a little and let the mixture gently bubble until it has reduced and thickened slightly. 

Once thickened transfer the coconut mixture to the food processor (or use a stick blender) and whizz until a smooth paste is formed. Then spread the paste over the tart base so that it is evenly covered. 

Place the vegetables on top of the coconut cream (you can use any combination you like here but I added kale and mushrooms to my asparagus). Sprinkle over the fresh herbs, and if you are happy to have a non-vegan version of this dish top with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Place the tart in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling then remove, serve and enjoy!




This recipe was adapted from the vegan and gluten free pizza recipe over at The First Mess.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Left Over Easter Egg Chocolate Sorbet

After making multiple batches of creme egg brownies as Easter gifts I’m feeling well and truly chocolated out (too many incidents of spoon licking are to blame). So on returning home after visiting the family last weekend I brought back a few sweet treats and couldn’t face eating them all straight away. And so I thought I would use up some of my excess choccies in a batch of chocolate sorbet. The original recipe found over at Food 52 is a great vegan alternative to ice cream if you just use dark chocolate but I stuck in some milk chocolate too, the results were still delicious, and possibly a little too addictive…I think I am going to end up eating this sorbet quicker than I would have the original Easter Eggs!!!




INGREDIENTS

550ml water
200g golden caster sugar
75g cocoa
100g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
50ml golden rum

Place 375ml of the water in a saucepan along with the cocoa and sugar. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil, then continue to simmer for another minute before removing from the heat.

Break the chocolate into chunks and add to the hot cocoa mixture, stirring until all of the chocolate is melted. Finally add the remaining water and the rum.

Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and stick it in the freezer. Remove every two hours and blitz with a stick blender  before returning to the freezer, continue this process until fully frozen (alternatively just stick the mixture in an ice cream machine).


Then tuck in and enjoy, just try not to eat it all at once!!!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Gluten free creme egg brownies

Spring is in the air and the Easter Bunny shall soon be leaving little egg shaped treats amongst the daffodils for us to stumble upon. My family Easter celebrations are stuffed full of slightly crazy traditions and on Good Friday I shall be eating a massive quantity of homemade hot cross buns in the idyllic surroundings of a Kentish trout farm!!! (for more details on that one check out my hot cross bun recipe from last year!) Then once the hot cross bun fest is finished and we feel like we can’t eat any more Easter treats we all get busy in the kitchen and serve up homemade chocolaty goodies on Easter Sunday. So here is a little sneak peak of what my family will be set to receive at the weekend…thanks to some wonderful inspiration from a recipe over at scarletscorchdroppers I shall be producing the ultimate concoction of all things Easter…..chocolate and creme eggs and some more chocolate and a little more creme egg, and all of this is gluten free!!



Ingredients

180g milk chocolate
120g butter
140g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
80g gluten free flour
20g corn flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon xanthum gum
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
12 mini crème eggs (frozen)

100g golden syrup
175g icing sugar
50g butter
2 tablespoons milk

150g milk chocolate

Makes 12 brownies

Grease and line a 25cm x 20cm tin and pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Melt together the butter, chocolate and sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat until well combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring in the eggs and beating all of the ingredients together.

Sift in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and xanthum gum into the chocolate mix and fold together until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth out. Take the mini eggs out of the freezer and push into the brownie mixture (by being frozen for a bit first it prevents the eggs from melting into the mixture and they hold their shape better). Then place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 25 minutes, at this point the brownie should be set but still a little gooey in the middle.

Leave the mixture to cool in the tin.

Whilst the brownie mixture is cooling mix the golden syrup and butter together and then stir in the icing sugar adding the milk a little at a time to loosen the mixture if needed.

Spread 2/3 of the icing over the mixture so that it is completely covered. Add a few drops of yellow food colouring to the remaining icing and blob small teaspoons of the mixture across the brownie to resemble the yolks normally found in a crème egg.

Finally break the remaining chocolate into a heat proof bowl and place over a bowl of lightly simmering water (ensuring the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water in the pan). Once melted pour the chocolate over the brownie so that it is fully covered.

Allow to set before carefully lifting out of the tin and slicing into bite sized portions….then share with friends and family for Easter.