Strasbourg Kouglof – Brioche Buns with Almonds & Rum Soaked Raisins

Strasbourg Kouglof

Kouglof is a speciality of Strasbourg and the wider region of Alsace, that fascinating, oft-disputed region, where France and Germany rub shoulders. It’s a sort of brioche studded with almonds and raisins and shaped to look like a crown. Although they can be found all year round, they come into their own at the Strasbourg Christmas Market. The recipe for Strasbourg kouglof here is my take on this classic French bake.

(more…)

Vegetarian Salade Niçoise – Savoury Summer on a Plate

Vegetarian Salade Niçoise

When I spotted Cornish new potatoes at my local greengrocers at the weekend, I couldn’t resist purchasing some. Somehow, a bunch of Cornish asparagus made its way into my basket too. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make a vegetarian salade Niçoise.

(more…)

Rhubarb Friands with White Chocolate – We Should Cocoa #68

Rhubarb friands

Back along, nearly three years ago to be exact, I hosted a six course chocolate themed dinner party for friends. These rhubarb friands with white chocolate (that’s with an a not an e) accompanied the rhubarb, rose and white chocolate ice-cream that made up the last course but one. With rhubarb already in season, this seems like a good time to finally publish the recipe.

(more…)

Gooseberry Galette

Gooseberry Galette

Tart, World Cuisine | 18th July 2015 | By

When I was given some gooseberries from my mother, my first thought was crumble – the weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was cold and wet. However, by the time I got around to actually using them, the weather had improved. Although a gooseberry fool or other such dessert might have been more appropriate, I had “baked gooseberry something” on my mind. A sudden flash of inspiration and gooseberry galette it was – both baked and summery.

(more…)

Teatime in Paris by Jill Colonna and Diamond Biscuits

Diamants

It’s always exciting when a fellow food blogger publishes a book and when it’s a book as good as Teatime in Paris, it doubles the pleasure. French pâtisserie is something many of us aspire to, but believe it’s too complicated to make at home. This book debunks that myth and makes many of these elegant pastries  accessible to us all, as suggested by the subtitle a walk through easy French pâtisserie recipes.

(more…)

Chilli Chocolate Madeleines – We Should Cocoa #51

Chilli Chocolate Madeleines with Salted caramel Clotted Cream Sauce

Some old friends rang the other day to say they were coming to Liskeard and could they call around for a cup of tea. Well of course. But I had no cakes or biscuits in the house. It was time to whip up a batch of something fast. Chilli chocolate madeleines it was then. Fresh from the oven, they are delicious treats indeed.

(more…)

Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Fondants – A French Classic with a Twist

Salted Butterscotch Chocolate Fondant

Pudding, World Cuisine | 27th August 2013 | By

Who loves chocolate and salt? I’m putting my hand up to that one and salted caramel too of course. Continuing on my salty journey from the salted caramelised almond chocolates I made for We Should Cocoa, I couldn’t resist making these salted butterscotch chocolate fondants.

(more…)

Honey, Thyme and White Chocolate Madeleines – We Should Cocoa #32

As soon as I chose honey for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I’ve done nothing but dream of honey bakes. I love honey and if money was no object would use it instead of sugar almost exclusively. As well as the flavour, honey has a lot of health benefits which are not found in sugar. When I saw that Classic French this month was madeleines, my mind immediately moved to how I could incorporate honey and chocolate into these delicate little French cakes. I was recently sent some New Zealand Honey to try out and whilst I liked the woody notes of the 10+ pre-biotic Beech Forest Honeydew, I thought the more floral notes of the 10+ antioxidant Thyme Honey would work better here.  Right until the last minute I was going to grate some milk chocolate into the mix which I thought would give a pretty speckled look. However, I wanted a hint of thyme to shine through and I thought this would be better achieved with white chocolate. I had seen a recipe for Honey Madeleines in a recent book I was sent for review purposes, Stacie Bakes, so I set to and adapted it quite heavily.

This is how I made:

Honey, Thyme and White Chocolate Madeleines

  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a small pan over low heat.
  • Added 50g chopped white chocolate and 1 heaped tbsp thyme honey.
  • Beat 2 duck eggs with 50g cardamom (caster) sugar until thick, pale and tripled in volume.
  • Poured the chocolate mixture gently down the side of the bowl and folded into the egg mixture as gently as possible.
  • Sifted in 75g unbleached flour and just over half teaspoon of baking powder.
  • Finally folded in a scant teaspoon of finely chopped fresh lemon thyme.
  • Spooned into 16 madeleine moulds and baked in the middle of the oven at 180C for ten minutes.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.

These were by far and away the most delicious madeleines I’ve made yet. The honey was the predominate flavour, but it also gave them a succulent and sticky texture which was just delightful. White chocolate seems to work really well in bakes and although the flavour can’t be detected, it gives them a certain body and je ne sais quoi. They are very different without it. Lemon thyme & cardamom sugar combined to give a soupcon of citrus to the proceedings. They could, of course, be dusted with icing sugar, but I thought they were quite pretty in their yellow and brown livery, so left them au natural. I got the desired “foot” that is required for a classic madeleine, but in my short madeleine making career, I have not so far had a problem with this. Unlike most madeleines that really need to be eaten as soon after baking as possible, these improved with age and became stickier and even more scrumptious, although that didn’t prevent us from tucking in immediately.

I am obviously entering these madeleines into my very own We Should Cocoa.

I am also submitting them to Classic French with Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes who has chosen Madeleines as this month’s theme.

I adore herbs and use them a lot both in my cooking and for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, but I rarely pair them with chocolate. So it is a rare event that I am able to enter Karen’s excellent Herbs on Saturdays and I am always a little bit excited when I can do so – you never know I might just win a book. This month’s book sounds especially good and right up my street – cooking with edible flowers by Miriam Jacobs. I’m crossing fingers.

Thanks to the New Zealand Honey Co. for sending me some of their delicious honey to try.

Chococo Brownies and Matcha Madeleines

Last weekend saw me very busy with a mammoth bake for a friend’s birthday party. When asked if I could make some cakes to bring along, the only request made was for small cakes that were easy to eat and weren’t cupcakes. It took me a while to come up with some ideas. I wanted to include lots of different flavours, textures and colours. Eventually I got there. Sometimes I find it hard to get hold of good quality free range eggs. Luckily, I had plenty of organic ones from Penbugle Farm which I’d been given to use.

Brownies just had to be on the menu. I decided to use a recipe from my newest chocolate book Chococo which CT bought for me as a Valantines surprise. This uses far less sugar than is normal in brownies, but the author Claire Burnet claims that they are still sweet and delicious. I Swapped the pecans for walnuts, the rice flour for buckwheat flour and made a few other adjustments.

This is how I made:

Walnut Brownies

  • Melted 150g unsalted butter with 225g 70% dark chocolate in a pan over low heat, then left to cool.
  • Whisked 125g dark brown sugar with 3 large organic eggs. 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp fleur de sel using electric beaters until mixture was thick, pale and doubled in volume.
  • Sifted in 50g buckwheat flour and folded in as lightly as possible.
  • Stirred in 60g chopped walnuts as lightly as possible.
  • Folded in the chocolate mixture until just incorporated.
  • Poured into a 22cm (9″) sq cake mould and scattered 20g chopped walnuts over the top.
  • Baked at 180C for 17 minutes. Left to go cold then cut into 16 squares.
These were not like your average brownie; they were very light and quite delicate. Despite the reduced amount of sugar compared to most brownies, Claire was right: these tasted sweet and delicious.

As well as the honey and spice cakes I’ve already blogged about, I also made Blackcurrant Bakewell Slices and Date and Rum Slices. The piece de resistance which I will post about later was this lime and pistachio birthday cake. CT got into the spirit of thing and drew appropriately illustrated labels for each bake. We all had a deal of fun on the night including a Beetle Drive and lots of dancing.

The final bake I took along were these Japanese green tea Madeleines which CT refers to as Matcheleines and which I based on my chocolate chilli Madeleines. As some of you will have gathered by now, I am a big fan of using matcha in baking. It works particularly well, not only giving an interesting colour, but adding great flavour too. They were as good as I was hoping they might be; CT would have happily demolished the lot given half the chance. There were certainly none left at the end of the evening. Perhaps I should have made crepes as my friend is actually Breton.

This is how I made:

Matcha Madeleines (Matcheleines)

  • Melted 75g unsalted butter gently in a small pan then set aside to cool.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs and 75g golden caster sugar together for quite a long time it seemed, using electric beaters. Whisked until the mixture had trebled in volume and was pale and thick.
  • Sifted in 90g flour (half spelt, half white), 1 tbsp matcha (Japanese powdered green tea) and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
  • Folded this in as gently as possible trying not to lose too much air from the eggs.
  • Poured the butter in down one side of the bowl and folded this in until just incorporated.
  • Placed 1 tbsp of the mixture into each of 16 Madeleine moulds.
  • Baked for 10 minutes at 200C until well risen and firm to the touch.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Dusted with caster sugar.

As Madeleines are a classic French bake (mais peut etre pas normalment avec le matcha), I am entering them into Tea Time Treats where the theme this month is French tarts, cakes bakes and pastries – ooh la la. Hosted this month with Karen of Lavender and Lovage, the challenge is co-hosted by Kate of What Kate Baked.

These also fit nicely into Bloggers Around the World where Chris has chosen Japan for this month’s national cuisine. Matcha is the taste of Japan for CT who drank it zealously whilst he was there.

I’m also entering the brownies into Choc Full Easter over at Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey an Easter event celebrating ….. chocolate of course!

Chocolate Chilli Madeleines

The good folk at work gave me a voucher for a local kitchen shop for my birthday last year. It took me a while, but I finally spent it – on some silicone Madeleine moulds. Not only have I never made Madeleines before, but I don’t remember ever having eaten one either. So, it really was time to change this. I wasn’t entirely sure what they should be like, so it was Dan Lepard who I placed my faith in; I based my recipe on his Madeleines de Commercy from Short and Sweet. I used my usual half wholemeal, half white flour mix and substituted the vanilla extract for my homemade chocolate extract as well as swapping some of the flour for cocoa.

This is what I did:

  • Melted 75g unsalted butter gently in a small pan then set aside to cool.
  • Whisked 2 duck eggs and 75g golden caster sugar together for quite a long time it seemed, using electric beaters. Whisked until the mixture had trebled in volume and was pale and thick.
  • Sifted in 90g flour (half spelt, half white), 10g cocoa, 1/4 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
  • Folded this in as gently as possible trying not to lose too much air from the eggs.
  • Poured the butter in down one side of the bowl and folded this in together with 2 tsp chocolate extract until just incorporated.
  • Placed a tbsp of the mixture into 12 Madeleine moulds.
  • Finding I had quite a bit left over, I divided the remaining mixture between 5 muffin moulds.
  • Baked for 10 minutes at 200C until well risen and firm to the touch.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
Hooray, my first Madeleines were a success. They turned out well, had the classic shell like shape and looked pretty. They tasted buttery, had a nice hit of cocoa and chilli and weren’t too sweet. I have no idea what the texture is meant to be like, but these were light and spongy. Unlike Proust, they didn’t take me back to my youth, but the Atkins & Potts chocolate spread did, vraiment.