Now Twelfth Night has passed, I’m feeling it’s time to Jumpstart January. Whilst these vanilla almond cookies aren’t exactly healthy, they aren’t too bad for you either. They contain freshly ground almonds and wholemeal spelt flour and the sugar content is relatively low. I’m also trying to eat more vegan meals than usual this month to celebrate Veganuary, so I’ve made them vegan.
Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Great British Bake Off is back. The whole country is watching, it seems. Last week, the bakers were given Viennese whirls as their technical challenge. Piping is the name of the game for these bakes and I hate piping. It was time for me to move outside of my comfort zone, however. Of course I had to do something a bit different, so I give you my Chocolate Viennese Whirls.
Christmas is traditionally a time for baking biscuits and I usually make the most of it. I tend to make an old favourite or two, but also use the occasion to try out a some new recipes. One of them, this time, was to be Christmas Butter Biscuits.
Far from putting me off them forever, judging the Liskeard Bun has reignited my love for all things bun. Yeasted or not, plain or fancy, there is something rather wonderful about the British bun.
When Karen over at Lavender and Lovage chose vanilla as the ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I knew immediatley I wanted to make biscuits. Vanilla is such a sweetly fragrant spice and it somehow seems to become more potent when combined with sugar in biscuits. Sandwiching the biscuits with a rich chocolate vanilla filling was no sooner thought of, than executed.
As some of you may have gathered by now, I’m in thrall to my Froothie high speed blender. It gets used virtually every day and makes a wonderful job of finely blending the most unlikely of ingredients and making them silky smooth. Have a look at my nettle smoothie if you don’t believe me.
Ages ago, I saw a fabulous post for a fruit dessert pizza over at Peaches Please and was immediately struck by the idea. I had been sent some plums from South Africa so the time was right to try a plum pizza. Some of you may recall the plum and amaretto ice-cream I made with these very same plums way back when, so I had high hopes. I was also keen to try making pizza dough with white chocolate which I thought would suit this fruity delight very well.
This is how I made:
Plum and Walnut Pizza
- Mixed 250g flour (half wholemeal, half white) in a bowl with 1 tsp instant yeast, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp maca powder (not necessary, but makes me think I’m being healthy).
- Stirred in 150ml warm water and 1 tbsp olive oil until the mixture came together in a ball.
- Kneaded for about 10 minutes on an oiled surface, adding 30g of finely chopped vanillary white chocolate towards the end (I used G&B).
- Placed into an oiled bowl and left to rise for an hour or so.
- Divided the mixture into 4 balls and rolled as thinly as possible into rounds.
- Placed on lined baking sheets.
- Warmed 3 tbsp of plum jam (homemade) and 1 tbsp marsala in a small pan.
- Sliced 4 large purple plums into thin slices.
- Roughly chopped a handful of walnut halves.
- Spread a tbsp of the jam mixture over the base of each pizza.
- Laid the plum slices over the jam then scattered some walnuts over the top.
- Dusted a little vanilla sugar over the top.
- Baked in the middle of the oven at 200°C for 12 minutes.
- Served immediately (apart from the odd photo or two).
Gosh these were good. The dough was soft and sweet and combined beautifully with the tart juicy plums and the fragrant vanilla. The walnuts gave a delightful crunch and added bitter notes which contrasted nicely with the caramel undertones from the bits of white chocolate that had caramelised in the dough. These were also a visual feast with the strikingly coloured purple plums. This is a dessert I can see us having again and again – maybe with peaches or nectarines by way of a change.
Alpha Bakes is P this month and I have three of them. P is for Purple Plum and Walnut Pizza. It is hosted this time around over at Caroline Makes and is alternately hosted by Ros of The More Than Occasional Baker.
And this is my second entry to Bookmarked Recipes this month with Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes.
Being rather pleased with this fabulous bake, I am submitting it to Emily’s #recipeoftheweek over at A Mummy Too.
Plum is the chosen ingredient for the monthly Rix Aga Inspired Recipes, so I am sending this over to them as well in the vague hope I might win £100 Waitrose voucher.
Father’s Day will soon be here, falling on Sunday 15th of June this year. Baking something for dad is a gesture many people are keen to make. Dr Oetker have come up with a few chocolate recipes they feel would be suitable for the occasion. The recipes focus less on the sugar and more on the chocolate – of the dark variety. They include a chocolate Guinness cake and an ale chocolate layer cake – hmm, I think I can see a theme developing here. I opted to try out the recipe for Coconut Chocolate Bars which I knew would appeal to CT.
I didn’t, of course, stick entirely to the recipe as given. For a start, I didn’t have any powdered egg white, Dr Oetker or otherwise, but I did have two egg whites sitting in the fridge leftover from making raspberry muffins. I used wholemeal spelt flour for the base along with vanilla sugar. I added a little butter and maple syrup to the chocolate at the end as I opted for the 72% and thought this might be a little too hard to work on its own. I also wanted a nice shiny top and as I still haven’t really got to grips with tempering chocolate properly, this seemed a good way of achieving it. You can find the original recipe here.
This is how I made:
Coconut Chocolate Bars
- Creamed 100g unsalted butter with 50g vanilla sugar (golden caster sugar) until the mixture was smooth and creamy.
- Sieved in 115g wholemeal spelt and 15g of cocoa powder and mixed until just combined.
- Pressed into an 8″ sq silicone mould trying to make it as evenly spread as possible.
- Baked at 180℃ for 15 minutes then reduced the oven to 140℃.
- Whisked two egg whites with a pinch of cream of tarter until peaks formed.
- Slowly whisked in 100g golden caster sugar until stiff peaks formed.
- Gently stirred in 1 tsp of vanilla paste and 150g desiccated coconut.
- Spread this over the biscuit base and baked for 25 minutes at 140℃.
- Melted 150g Dr Oetker 72% dark chocolate in a bowl over hot water together with 20g unsalted butter and 1 tbsp of maple syrup.
- Stirred gently until smooth.
- Poured over the coconut spreading it into the corners and ensuring all was covered.
- Left to set, removed from the mould and cut into 18 bars.
If, like us, you are fond of the UK confectionery Bounty bars but find them too sweet, you will love these. They have all the flavour and texture of a Bounty and more and they are not tooth achingly sweet. They weren’t as pretty as I was hoping; I was unable to cut them cleanly, but they held together well and still looked quite striking with the alternating layers of dark, white and dark. They were light in texture but quite rich, so we found ourselves unable to gorge on them as we thought we might.
I’m sending some of these off to Nayna over at Simply Food for her Let’s Cook for Father’s Day event.
Likewise I’m sending some bars off to Made with Love Mondays over at Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.
There should be just a few of these chocolate coconut bars to send off to #recipeoftheweek with Emily over at A Mummy Too.
Chocolate was a very rare treat when I was a child. Bounty bars were allowed on rare occasions as they were deemed to be less unhealthy because of the coconut. So I am sending these adult versions off to Treat Petite where the theme is childhood memories. CakeyBoi and The Baking Explorer host this monthly event.
Thanks to Dr Oetker for the baking chocolate selection and recipes. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
One of the fun things I got to do on my recent visit to London was to eat breakfast and make brunch with Tom Aikens using lactofree products at L’etalier des Chefs near St Pauls. Tom Aikens is well known for being the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars at the tender age of 26. He is also known for his talent and creativity. I found him to be friendly, knowledgable and helpful.
Lactofree was a knew one on me, but as a big fan of dairy, I thought it was a fantastic idea for dairy enthusiasts who are unfortunate enough to be lactose intolerant. There is quite a range of products including, milk, cream, yogurt, spreadable butter, cream cheese and cheddar. I don’t entirely understand the process of extracting the lactose which is done by some sort of filtration, but all the products I tried tasted just as they should. Tom was a fan of the cream in particular as it can be used for cooking without splitting, unlike many dairy free products.
The masterclass comprised a demo on how to make Tom’s poppy seed and raspberry muffins and a demo of his recipe for mushroom ragout on toast with chervil and sorrel; this was followed by a hands on cooking session replicating the mushroom dish. The muffins used the spreadable butter and raspberry yogurt from the lactofree range and the mushrooms were cooked with the spreadable butter and cream. We took home some of Tom’s muffins; the mushrooms we ate on grilled wholemeal sourdough as soon as we’d cooked them. They were scrumptious, although I’m sure a little grating of 100% chocolate would not have gone amiss.
As we’d started the morning with muesli and yogurt, I was feeling quite replete by the end of the morning and certainly didn’t need lunch. It was fun to meet and cook with other food bloggers and to see a part of London I wasn’t very familiar with. The event was even more enjoyable as I was able to invite along the friend I was staying with. She was delighted by the mushroom recipe in particular as she’d never really known what to do with this most glorious of fungi. Tom’s muffins kept me going on the long train journey back home to Cornwall. Poor CT didn’t get a look in.
Whilst we were in the vicinity, we took a rather scary glass elevator trip up to the top of One New Change, a shopping centre with an open rooftop offering an impressive view of the London skyline. This was probably the best view of St Paul’s I’ve ever had and my friend pointed out a number of new buildings I hadn’t seen before including the Shard.
As it’s World Baking Day today, I decided to make Tom’s muffins but add my own twist of white chocolate and thus use less sugar. I also used my usual flour mix of half wholemeal, half white. The recipe was a little odd regarding quantities. For example, we were asked to use 230ml of raspberry yogurt, but the pots came in 125g sizes. So the measures I used may not reflect the original recipe. I also realised, after the event, I was meant to cream half of the sugar and add the other half to the egg whites – oh well!
This is how I made:
Lacto Free Raspberry, Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Muffins
- Creamed 115g spreadable butter with 200g vanilla sugar (golden caster) until light and fluffy.
- Separated 5 eggs, adding the yolks to the butter, putting 2 whites in the fridge for later use and adding 3 whites to a clean bowl.
- Beat in the egg yolks into the butter mixture together with 2 tsp of vanilla extract.
- Beat in two 125 ml tubs of raspberry yogurt and 35g poppy seeds.
- Whisked the three egg whites with a pinch of cream of tarter until stiff peaks formed.
- Stirred ⅓ of this into the yogurt mixture, then folded in the remainder.
- Sifted in 315g flour (half organic wholemeal, half organic white), 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp baking powder.
- Folded this in as gently as possible followed by 50g of white chocolate chips and 170g fresh raspberries.
- Divided between 15 muffin cases, which was a mistake – I overfilled them. The recipe said 16 and I should have taken note.
- Baked at 180℃ for 23 minutes. Left to cool for a few minutes then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Took some over to my mother’s for tea.
The muffins are really good, but not as good as Tom’s. I suspect that the recipe we were given was not quite the same as the one he used on the day; mine taste slightly bicarby I think. They are also very rich and again I’m not sure that Tom used all five egg whites or just the three specified. The cakes rose well and have a lovely firm but light texture with a nice crunch of poppy seeds. The raspberry flavour is a good one. The raspberries adding little bursts of tart fruitiness and the white chocolate gave punctuating sweetness. I did find the recipe a bit of a faffy one and ended up with more washing up than I’d normally expect from a simple muffin recipe. I think next time I make it, I will not bother separating the eggs and perhaps use four whole eggs instead of five yolks and three whites.
Although this is really a raspberry muffin, there is a lot of vanilla in here and the flavour really comes through, so I am entering it into this month’s The Spice Trail where vanilla is the choice. It’s being hosted by Solange of Pebble Soup who should recognise these muffins as she was also there at the Lactofree event. Vanesther of Bangers & Mash is the creator.
As I suspect this might become a bit of a favourite, I’m entering them into Favourite Recipes where the theme is sweets and snacks. It’s being hosted over at My Kitchen Odyssey on behalf of Zesty South Indian Kitchen.
Thanks to Lactofree for this fun masterclass and the bag of products we were given to take home with us. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.