Friday, 21 November 2008



Cookie Obsession

One of my favourite blogs is the Amateur Gourmet, so when a couple of weeks ago he featured a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, another favourite, which involved chocolate and Fleur de Sel i had to make them. Its been a while since then and I have now made this recipe three more times (all those times were by request honest!). These are so easy to make and last very well, if you manage some restraint (I couldn't). As I made these without much thought or planning I didn't get many pictures, in fact I only got the one but I still want to share the recipe .

1 cup Plain flour (all-purpose)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks, 197g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
170g white chocolate - use a good quality, I used Green and Blacks ( every time I make these I split the match into two and use dark chocolate in one and white in the other)
Small amount of flaked salt such as Fleur de Sel

1. Pre Heat the oven to 175c 350f and line cookie sheets with parchment paper

2. Whisk Flour, Baking Powder and Soda, and Table Salt in a bowl

3. Cream the Butter and Sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla then beat until incorporated

4. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Gradually add the oats and chocolate and mix till fully incorporated

5. Divide into 32 equal portions ( the original recipe calls for 24 but i find they spread too much at that size) and roll into balls and place on your cookie sheets and press lightly to flatten to about 3/4 inch thickness. I find it best to refrigerate the cookies at this stage as the rolling tends to warm the butter a bit which leads to excessive spreading.

6. Sprinkle a flake or so of Fleur de Sel onto each cookie and then bake for 13-16 minutes until golden brown on the edges rotating halfway though, and then place on wire rack to cool.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Pierre Herme - Via

I decided that today would be the day I conquered my fear of italian meringue and use it for macarons. What was I afraid of!! It was so easy I feel a bit silly for not having tried it earlier. I found a recipe on Foodbeam, a great blog, the writer did an internship at Pierre Herme in Paris and this recipe comes from Herme's book PH10, which I would love to get but my french is not so good. The complete recipe is for a rose macaron but I just used the base recipe for the cookie and used some strawberry jam as the filling. These were absolutely the best I have ever made and will now become my staple base recipe. Next time I want to try Chocolate.


125g Icing Sugar
125g Ground Almonds
125g Caster Sugar
31g Water
47g Aged Egg Whites (that have been sat out for 48-72 hours)
43g Fresh Egg White
Food colouring

1. Put the Icing sugar and Almonds in the food processor and blitz for around a minute or until you have a fine powder. Sieve into your bowl.

2. Preheat your oven to 160c (I have a fan assisted oven so I set to 130c)

3. Put the caster sugar and water in a saucepan and over a medium heat bring to 120c

4. Just before the syrup gets to 120c (around 114) start the eggs going in the mixer and when the syrup gets to 120c pour it into the whites and keep it going till its cooled down. the meringue should be thick and glossy.

5. In a seperate bowl mix the fresh egg white into the almond/sugar mix until you have a thick paste add the colouring to this. bear in mind that the meringue and the baking will make the final colour paler.

6. Mix a third of the egg whites into the second bowl just to lighten the mixture. You dont need to be gentle on this addition.

7. In two seperate additions fold the meringue in gently until your mixture is still firm but softer and glossy (to be honest im never 100% sure if I have gone too far but if you do they will spread too far and if you mix too little they will be more like meringue than macaron)

8. Pipe the mixture into small rounds onto a lined baking sheet and then bake for around 9 mins (in my fan oven at the lower temp i bake for 12-13 mins)

9. When you take then from the oven leave them on the baking paper or silicon sheet until totally cool or they may stick to the sheet.

10. Sandwich with the filling of choice and if you can resist refrigerate overnight

Saturday, 26 July 2008

World Peace - hopefully as easy as these cookies

Yes i know I am late to the party but here they are anyway. A colleague has got a promotion at work and will be leaving my office this week so i promised i would bake something for her last day. I had these bookmarked and as the weather was going to hot this weekend I didn't want anything too involved. I think I may need to get some variation in my cook books as i appear to be getting an addiction to Dorie Greenspan books and recipes, although this is no bad thing. I have to say these are great cookies and i think the small size is perfect (i dont feel so guilty eating them!!)

From Dorie Greenspans Paris Sweets and from Baking: from my Home to Yours - makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into little bits

1. Sift the Flour, Baking Soda and Cocoa together. In another large bowl beat the butter together until soft and creamy.

2. Add the Sugars, Vanilla and Salt to the butter and mix for a couple of minutes till well combined.

3. Add the Flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix, on slow at first, to combine and only just until combined. (at this stage i mix the butter into the flour with a spatula just a tiny bit first to stop it from flying everywhere before i use the mixer)

4. Add the Chocolate pieces and mix with a spatula again only till just distributed, as you want to keep them crumbly as possible.

5. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and divide in half. roll the dough into logs about 1 1/2 inches (mine were a little smaller) and then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, i left mine overnight. you can make this a couple of days ahead or even freeze the dough at this stage for up to a month.

6. Once ready to bake ake from the fridge and slice the los into 1/2 inch thick rounds. they make break up a bit when you cut them but they can be easily be put back together. place them on a lined baking sheet and place in a preheated oven set at 160c for 12 minutes.

7. When you take them from the oven they wont look done but the edges will be a little firm. let them them cool on a rack.

8. Try not eat them all in one go!!!

(note about oven temperature - i have a fan assisted oven and find they cook things faster than normal so i tested 3 cookies first at 1 minute intervals and found that 150c and 8 minutes was perfect)

Friday, 4 July 2008

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

simple and delicious muffins from the bountiful "Baking From my Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan

2/3 cups Sugar
Zest of one Lemon
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Sour Cream
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
8 tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
2 tbsp poppy seeds

preheat the oven to 200C and butter 12 muffin moulds or line with muffin papers

in a bowl rub the sugar and lemon zest with your fingers until fragrant and moist

whisk in the dry ingredients

in a separate bowl whisk all the other ingredients (except the seeds) and then pour over the dry ingredients - and then mix gently with a spatula making sure only to mix till combined - you dont want to over mix the batter.

gently mix in the poppy seeds again only until just combined.

divide into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 mins until golden and a thin knife comes out clean when inserted into the centre. remove from oven and let sit in pan for 5 mins before removing.

(these keep quite well so long as kept in an airtight container)

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Plaisir Sucre

I recently bought the beautiful Pierre Herme book Chocolate Desserts and this is the first thing i attempted and boy it was one complex dessert. None of the individual elements were difficult but there is a lot of elements which took a lot of time to put together.

Firstly was the Daquoise which is egg whites whipped to a firm glossy peak then folded into a confectioners sugar/ground hazelnut mix which is then scattered with half hazelnuts. Then i made the chocolate cream which forms the top layer. Thirdly there's two layers of ganache and all this is sandwiched between 3 pieces of chocolate which has been tempered. Oh and theres also a praline layer on top of the daquoise although that was simple

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Whole Lemon Tart

The pastry i made last time was to be used for a Whole Lemon Tart but i made way too much so i also froze two balls and used the last of it for a traditional English Custard Tart which ill post soon.

I wanted something summery as the weather was meant to be nice again and so i didn't want anything too heavy. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse but the tart was still great.

1 Partially baked 9 inch tart shell (from the last post)
1 Lemon (around 130g)
300g sugar
1 Large egg
1 Egg yolk
1 1/2 tbsp conflour
115g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

1. Preheat oven to 165c and place your tart shell on a parchment lined baking sheet.

2. slice lemon into small pieces and remove the seeds. place lemon and sugar into food processor and blend until thoroughly pureed.

3. Using a whisk gently stir in the egg cornflour and butter.

4. Pour filling into the crust.

5. place in oven and bake for 20 mins then increase temperature to 180c for a further 15-20 mins until the filling is bubbling and slightly coloured. leave in the pan for 20 mins and serve when at room temp.

I served this the same day but the little that was left was still good the next. I served it with creme fraiche which worked really well but a raspberry sauce would have gone great i think.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Pierre Herme's Pate Sucree

My birthdays tomorrow and i wanted to try out a whole lemon tart so i made the pastry today and will refrigerate overnight and then finish off tomorrow.

This was almost an absolute disaster. I was supposed to half the base recipe but only halved the flour so ended up as a bowl of slop. I realised in time hopefully to rescue it.

500g Plain White Flour
4 pinches of salt
300g butter at room temperature
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
190g Icing Sugar
60g Ground Almonds
2 Eggs

1. Sift Flour onto work surface and sprinkle with the salt. Add the butter and rub together until it is the texture of fine crumbs.

2. Mix the vanilla and sugar together and add this and the ground almonds to the flour mixture.

3. Make a well and break the eggs into it.

4. Using fingertips mix together to form a soft dough but dont overwork. shape into ball and wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Double Chocolate Brownies

Via via martha stewarts cookies

These were very very nice. I really liked the simplicity of just plain chocolate brownies yet the salt adds depth to the flavour. they also kept quite well lasting a good few days without drying out too much

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon bakingpowder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. preheat oven to 350 f and butter and line with parchment a 8" square pan

2. melt the chocolate butter and cocoa powder on a double boiler and set aside to cool slightly

3. mix together with a whisk yje flour salt and sugar

4. in an electric mixer with whisk attached mix the sugar eggs and vanilla until pale, around 4 minutes on medium speed. add the chocolate mixture until well combined then reduce speed and add the flour mixture and mix again till well combined

5. put mixture in pan and bake for around 35 mins or until tester comes out with crumbs but not wet. let it cool in pan for 15 minutes before taking out and cutting up.

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Today i was at a bit of a loose end so i thought i would try some fillings for macarons id been meaning to try. A mint italian buttercream and a caramel fleur de sel buttercream. Both came out pretty well really

Basic Italian Buttercream (base for both of the above)

- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into slices

1. Whisk together the sugar and egg whites just to combine.

2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk for around 3-4 minutes or until the sugar is all dissolved and the mixture is warm.

3. Take the bowl off the pan and continue to whisk on higher speed until stiff and shiny around 4 minutes.

4. On a low speed add the butter one piece at a time

At this stage for the mint I just added peppermint extract to taste. For the caramel I added caramel from the recipe below this was also done to taste but for half of the above recipe I added 3 large teaspoons of caramel.

Caramel Fluer De Sel

- 200g Sugar
- 1/4 cup of water
- 200g single cream
- 5g fleur de sel
- 140g unsalted butter

1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil until it turns a beautiful amber colour. You should also notice the smell suddenly turns to a wonderful caramel.

2. Take of the heat and add the warm cream a little at a time until all combined.

3. Let cool until around 105f and then with an immersion blender add the butter piece by piece until you get a glossy mixture. cover with cling film until use.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Macaron Virgin

Pierre Herme Macarons
I had my first Macaron at laduree in Harrods, London. They were good but maybe a little to sweet although this was my impression after never having had them before. Next was Pierre Herme in Paris and they were excellent. After the Paris trip i was inspired to make some for myself. I wanted to try rose flavoured ones and they were pretty good for a first attempt.

My Macarons

The recipe i use is from Tartlette a great blog.

3 egg whites or 100g weighed
50g granulated sugar
200g powdered sugar
110g Ground Almonds

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue.

2. Sieve the almonds and powdered sugar together to break the powdered sugar lumps and combine your almonds with it evenly. use a whisk to mix the two together.

3. Add them to the meringue. I do this in two or three additions i mix fairly rapidly as you want to break down the meringue a bit.

4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper baking sheets.

5. let sit out for an hour so air dry creating a thin crust. preheat oven to 150 degrees c

6. bake for 10-12 mins. let cool before filling.

as for advice i would only say to try them and to get a feel for your oven. Mine is a fan assited oven and so i reduce the temperature and cooking time and monitor closely. the filling in these was just cream whipped with some icing sugar and some rose water to taste for flavour. In the future i want to try ganache and butter cream fillings.