Kung Fu Café
Since 2011

Merry Christmas from Kung Fu Café! | Sweet Potato Truffles & Coconut Chocolate Ganache

Here’s to seeing the end of 2013 with loved ones and continuing the good fight by achieving many more goals in 2014. Merry Christmas everyone!

This year has been an amazing year full of personal growth and lessons learnt. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings and whatever happens, if I continue to improve as I have been in 2013, then I’ll be stronger because of it. :)

These photos are the first photos I’ve taken with a background! I decided to give it a go as it was Christmas, and I absolutely love Christmas themed food photos! Not only was it a nice and simple challenge for me (i.e my first use of a background, albeit simple!), it captured what I love most about Christmas; preparing food especially for loved ones (although the meal was my mum’s, not mine!) and being grateful for everything.

My parent’s house is absolutely perfect for shooting photos; the kitchen is so rustic, the living room is very grand with pine furniture, dark leather sofas and a roaring fire, and the whole house is just absolutely bathed in light – there are windows everywhere! I love this place so much, and really don’t want my parents to scale down and sell it! I’ll buy it from them for my photography practice (for a greatly reduced price, of course ;) ).

Anyway, as you can see, these photos are of my Christmas dinner just before devouring it. So I’m very pleased with how these photos came out providing that it was a few quick snaps (although I did prepare the setting and gold reflector, candle and regular old orange lamp before dinner was served. I really like how the Christmas lights, candle and Bucks Fizz came are out of focus and the dinner looks so perfect. We didn’t eat around this table (hence why I could set up all of my photography stuff there!), but the meal was certainly as delicious as it looked! Thanks mum! :)

And for dessert, we had a friend’s Christmas pudding! She makes and sells them every year, not giving out her recipe, and packaging them in beautiful red crepe paper, plastic and gold string. This is where I got the inspiration for making my own paleo Christmas puddings! These ones are definitely different to conventional Christmas puddings in that they’re more moist and fruity. I think you can see how moist they are in my photos, and they’re slightly lighter in colour than regular puddings. But they were absolutely delicious! Today we had my Christmas puddings. :)

So, as well as making my own Christmas puddings, I’ve also been making paleo mince pies! The crust/pastry is made from a recipe I’ve adapted a little and is made from almond flour, egg and oil, and the middle is my own mincemeat creation that includes fruits soaked overnight in brandy and all sorts of Christmas flavours. Someone ordered 20 mince pies from me (without the tops; someone who ordered 12 mince pies from me said a mince pie isn’t complete without a top; differing opinions I suppose!) and tried to call me on Christmas eve to thank me and tell me that the pies were “unbelievable!” That definitely made it all worthwhile! I don’t make a massive profit from the foods I make, and if I’m going to go into business with this, I think it’s worth playing around with prices to see what is the biggest profit I can make without taking advantage of my customers; but the mince pies I only just scrape myself into a profit margin with the price I’m selling them for. Mince pies are so cheap in the supermarkets, but it’s so timely to make them by hand (pressing the pastry into the moulds, and forming the lids, too, not to mention making the mincemeat in advance). But I suppose that these mince pies would be more expensive as they’re homemade and are also gluten free, too!

You can also see in the photos below that the texture of the mince pie crusts are different, and I think that’s dependent on the coarseness of the almond flour I use, and also how much I pack the dough into the moulds. In some ways I like the large pies with a smoother crust, and having a bulging top means you can put more filling in the middle. But at the same time, I quite like having flat tops because you can stack them more easily.

Anywho, the recipe below is for sweet potato truffles/balls. I absolutely love these and they’re perfect for the Christmas season! I think they’re great for a healthier treat, especially if the ball is left plain or perhaps covered with nuts. And even if they’re covered in cocoa powder and chocolate ganache, at least they’re made with healthier and more natural ingredients, rather than all of these additives formed in a lab!

I think a large ball would be a great post-workout snack, as they’re chocked full of carbs like sweet potato, and fat like almonds. The photo below is a ball covered in cocoa powder, and it looks just like the MCCs (modified calcium carbonates) I work with! You can see an SEM (scanning electron micrograph) of an MCC grade in the left picture below. Of course, the MCCs and sweet potato balls are on a completely different size scale. :)

I made these relatively large. They were fairly small when plain, but after adding and rolling them in different things, they plumped up in size. I rolled them in currants, desiccated coconut, dried goji berries, crushed pistachio nuts, cocoa powder and hemp seeds. Some I even rolled in this delicious chocolate-coconut ganache (which I thoroughly recommend serving with any dessert!).

I think these would be great for parties, lunch boxes, snacks, post-workouts, as a breakfast on the go, a snack before bed… any time, really!

I would love to make these again, but a little smaller, and all covered in chocolate ganache. These would be great on any party table, especially around Christmas, as they just have so many Christmas-y flavours and tastes… not to mention colours! They’re perfect to give as gifts, too, especially if presented in a nice box with a ribbon. :)

Maybe these could even be made into some sort of cake/patty as a starter, but with apple incorporated into the mix instead of dates? Some experimenting is afoot!

It’s not necessary to blend the ingredients; you could just mash them. The dates would be better blended, but of course you could omit the dates (if sweetness isn’t your thing) and perhaps replace them with more sweet potato or oats or something. I would also love to stuff these with melted peanut butter! Now THAT would be amazing!

Boxing day WOD:
Leftovers for time! :)

Sweet Potato Truffles
Adapted from: Nutrition Stripped
Makes 24 truffles

For the truffles:
• 4 x small sweet potatoes
• 1 x cup of almond flour
• ¾ cup of rolled oats (or coconut flour)
• 1 cup dates or dried fruit
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• ½ tsp nutmeg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• pinch of salt

For garnishing:
• *nothing*
• dried currants
• cocoa powder
• desiccated coconut
• dried goji berries
• crushed pistachio nuts
• raw shelled hemp seeds

For the chocolate ganache (makes how much?):
• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

For the truffles:
Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skins off (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!) pop them with the rest of the ingredients into a large food processor, and process until smooth.

I only had a small processor, so I processed the oats until they became flour, the dried fruit until it turned mushy, and mashed the insides of the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Then I homogenised by hand; it took a little longer but everything came together into a dough in the end.

Roll these balls out into as many truffles as you desire! :) I rolled them out into sizes about ¼ the size of the palm of my hand, and got 24. I could happily eat one in a large bit, or in two more moderate bites :)

For garnishing:
Roll each truffle into your chosen garnish, ensuring that you don’t smush the shape of the balls with your hand!

You could incorporate the cocoa powder into the actual ball itself to make it entirely chocolate.

For the chocolate ganache:
Melt the coconut oil over the hob (VERY gently) and take off of the heat. Add the maple syrup and cocoa powder, and stir to create a sauce. Add more coconut oil to make the sauce thinner, less coconut oil/more syrup and cocoa powder will make it thicker. I like mine thick! Let the sauce cool a little.

Roll each truffle into the chocolate ganache, or drizzle on top, and pop on non-stick baking paper. Store and cool in the fridge. Serve on a cool day (or immediately from the fridge) to ensure that the ganache will remain hard (otherwise the coconut oil will melt!). At this time of year in the UK, there will be no problems with ensuring that it remains cool!

Store in the fridge in an air tight container.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 22.11.2013

Coconut Chocolate Ganache & Coconut Cream | Homemade Christmas Puddings & Perspective

I’m feeling really rather Christmas-y this year and absolutely cannot wait to be curled up with my loved ones all under the same roof, all having a laugh and a bit of down time. Christmas is that time of year where I shut myself off from work and worries for a couple of weeks and just do the things I love, catch up on sleep and rest, and eat. :)

I’ve even gone as far as making my own Christmas puddings! I’ve looked at various traditional and gluten-free Christmas pudding recipes, and from those my own concoction full of brandy, mixed nuts and dried fruits, apples, coconut and general Christmas-ness is born. :) I think that I’ve used minimal but best ingredients in order to make it as primal as possible. I absolutely love these hot and covered with a mixture of coconut-chocolate ganache and double cream (see pictures further down the page!). Clotted cream works well, as does coconut cream.

The photo above and in the middle was taken in the dark using a 135W 5500K tungsten lamp and a silver reflector. How cool is that?! I love the result, actually! I just had to be careful with the light, as it was too weak to use a diffuser, but strong enough to make harsh shadows on the pudding. Luckily, the reflector worked nicely.

The two photos above and below it are taken in natural light (on a perfect day; overcast yet not grey!) with a gold reflector. I’m really glad that I used the gold reflector; I was a little worried about mixing daylight, which is a little more blue, with gold, but I really like the effect. :) I think that’s because I feel as though it makes the spices come alive, and it’s also a little reminiscent of home. I can image myself being at home on a cold winter’s eve with the fire flickering in the background. The only thing that would have made this more homely is if this plate was on a pine table, rather than a white board! It would have so reminded me of being at my parent’s house in the countryside in beautiful rural England. :)

That’s what food photography does for me; it has to have a story, a theme, a memory behind it. It has to evoke feelings, emotions and daydreams. It’s not just about the food, but it’s about the sentiment and enjoyment of, yes, the food, but also the situation and the people you’re sharing it with. My photos are rather minimalistic, but that’s because I struggle badly with the composition of the photo if there’s too much going on in the frame. I’ll get good one day if I keep practising! When I look back over the photos on this page, I see my improvement, although it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come. So it’s good to review regularly to inspire and motivate yourself. :)

Anyway, enough daydreaming! And onto talking about the two sauces in this post. These sauces are really rather delicious and go with everything you can think of! The photo below is the coconut-chocolate ganache on a pistachio sweet potato truffle, which is absolutely beautiful!

The sauce can be used for a lot of things. It does dry, as you can see in some of the pictures on this page, which not only makes it great to photograph (as there’s no shiny bits on the sauce), but also makes it great to coat truffles, for example. But if you’re in a warm environment (as coconut oil has a low melting point), or serve it immediately, it makes a really rich sauce that goes great with double cream (I’ve already said that earlier, but it was that good I had to say it again!).

I suppose you could make the sauce in advance, put it in a jar, keep in the fridge, and reheat over a VERY gentle heat when needed. Or you could periodically take spoonfuls from the jar (as we do with Nutella and peanut butter!).

Honestly, I could make this stuff and shape it into balls, pop in the fridge and have chocolate truffles or something. I have a silicon chocolate mould in the shape of coffee beans, and it’s tempting to just pop in in there and eat it. The coconut oil is so light on the tongue and melts as soon as it touches anything warm. It’s delicious and utterly divine!

And in actual fact, that’s what I did do (see the picture below)! I also added a little bit of instant coffee granules (or I suppose you could use freshly made espresso if you wanted), popped them into my silicon mould, and popped in the fridge. They were AMAZING!

Coconut cream is also another *must* to have available in the kitchen, especially around Christmas. This stuff has such a lovely texture and taste, and goes with just about anything! I think it could also be substituted for yoghurt. It’s delicious and silky smooth! Below is pictured a black bean brownie smothered in coconut cream. :)

Anyway, just briefly, I’ve decided that I’m not going to worry anyway (yeah right!). Today, and this time last week, I have given a presentation to an audience about my research, and I was really nervous, especially for last week’s! I was worried about the sorts of questions I was going to be asked. But I think it’s all about seeing these presentations as opportunities to grow, and discuss my work and see what I may have overlooked, rather than a sort of interrogation or an attempt to show me up. I if I didn’t know something, there was no need to be embarrassed to admit that “I don’t’ know/haven’t thought that far ahead yet.” But I managed to answer everything, and I answered it well (although the askers genuinely seemed to be interested in my work, rather than trying to tear it apart as it happens at other more specific conferences!). Even Iain Stewart asked me a question! Eeep! :)

I was also quite tempted to shout out to all those “feldspar jockies” during the CRES conference (which is essentially a room full of geologists; so my presentation was unique in that sense!) that “geology isn’t a real science!” in the style of Sheldon Cooper! (Apparently my work colleagues nearly died of hysterics after reading my “status” on Google+!)

My point is, I suppose, to just focus on the now. I spent a bit of time worrying about what may never have been, and after the presentations were over, it wasn’t! I did worry about what wasn’t! What a waste of time! And that was on the small scale! Imagine how much time we, as humans, spend worrying about so many things that don’t happen or mean anything. That’s time we could dedicate to just being happy.

So, forget the future, and enjoy the now! I prepared for questions as best as I could. After I did that, I could do no more. So why worry and put yourself through painful mental situations? And even demonstrating in the labs; I’m worried about how the students will perceive me, but again, there’s no shame in not knowing something and I can see it as a chance to get to know the students and improve my teaching, CV and public speaking. :)

I’m nervous about tonight’s WOD, but I’ll worry about that when I get there… :)

Wednesday’s WOD @ CFP:
Battle of London qualifier 3!

As many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
50 wall balls 9kg to 10ft/6kg to 9ft
40 KB swings Russian 32/24kg (to just above shoulder height)
30 down-ups (burpees without the jump and clap)
20 pull-ups
100 double unders

Score = total reps

442 reps rx’d

Coconut Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from: Nutrition Stripped and The Sweet Life Online

• ¼ cup cocoa powder
• ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
• 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey

Melt the coconut oil over the hob (VERY gently; do not boil the sauce!) and take off of the heat. Add the maple syrup and cocoa powder, and stir to create a sauce. Add more coconut oil to make the sauce thinner, less coconut oil/more syrup and cocoa powder will make it thicker.

Coconut Cream

• 1 x tin of coconut milk

Simply open the tin, empty it into a mason jar, mix well, and put it int he fridge overnight! By morning, it should have a smooth, creamy texture; perfect for desserts, or even as a yoghurt replacement! :)

Please note that this will not work with all brands!

Rave at the Box (any excuse to bake!) | Quadruple of Primal Treats

Menu du jour:
1. Banana & nut brownies
2. Coconut brownies
3. Honey, lemon & almond cookies
4. Chocolate & pistachio biscotti

What a week and what a crazy weekend! Where do I start?

Firstly, I should probably apologise for a very photo heavy post. But these brownies are just so damn photogenic. I love the colours of these banana brownies in particular, and the fact that they’re a little thicker/taller than the coconut ones (although the coconut brownies are a little gooey-er) makes them slightly easier to shoot.

I also tried a slightly different set up when taking these photos; I put my white boards on a coffee table so I could get differently angled shots easier than before, and it seemed to work! I took the Friday afternoon off because a) I was being incredibly unproductive that afternoon and all of the labs were packed, and instrumentation I needed was in use, and b) it was sunny and so I wanted to make the most of the light (as it had been dark and raining all week!). Although, it did get too sunny that afternoon (too sunny?! Yes!) and the direct sunlight made the shadows too harsh! Can’t win, eh? But I managed to get around it. :) (I have posted a photo of my set up, but please excuse the cables; I was testing my internet connections and there usually aren’t that many!)

So anyway, onto the food!

Although these treats are technically primal (paleo for the most part), they’re still concentrated (i.e. too many nuts, lots of honey, maple syrup, dried fruits, etc.), and so they’re still only a treat. I need to keep reminding myself of this; I swear there were twice as many of these treats before I took them to the party at CFP, but I just ate most of them in the space of two days. I tried my hardest to resist, but I just couldn’t. I would have eaten them all if it wasn’t for the potential shame of turning up with an empty box and broken promises!

Of course you can alter the sweetness with the amount of honey/maple syrup you add, and as well as the squidgy-ness with the amount of sweet potato and flour. Also, the more things you add, the less squidgy they will be (hence why the coconut brownies look a lot moister than the banana ones!).

These also go superbly well with coconut cream! How do you make coconut cream, you ask? Just open a tin of coconut milk, mix well, put in a mason jar and pop into the fridge overnight, et voilà‎! Coconut cream! It’s light to taste and so delicious! Although these brownies are moist enough to enjoy without anything else. :)

Just make sure that the brownies are cold before you cut them, otherwise they’ll crumble a bit too much! Although if you’re like me and put a million different things in them, it’s always going to be difficult to cut a clean slice every time.

And don’t get rid of your sweet potato skins! They make excellent pizza bases! Just put on some toppings and pop them in the oven. :) I would love to try and make these with avocado or beetroot. I would also like to try these with oats, too. I’ve used black beans in brownies, and they came out really well, although a little drier. I think my next test will be to try them with mung beans as they’re a little bit mushier in texture and may make for a softer brownie. We will see and I will post the results at some point! If they come out well, I may well try and scale it up to make it in to a cake for my brother’s birthday. He’s into health foods and getting as much protein as possible. Beans have a lot, so I’ll make it into a protein cake! I could even add protein powder and peanut butter, but I think adding a large chunk of meat will be taking things a bit too far…

The honey almond cookies were supposed to be biscotti, but I think I accidentally put in twice the amount of honey and syrup, as well as too much baking powder! So when I popped the batter (yes, batter, not dough!) on a baking sheet, I thought that it was too runny, but it sort of kept its shape. And when I had baked it for the first time, it was as flat as a pancake (and just about spilling over the edges, too!). It still tasted really nicely though, and would have been a shame to have got rid of those lovely ingredients. So I scooped the batter back up, made them into cookie shapes, and baked them again. And ta daaaa! Saved biscotti turned biscuits!

I’ve never even been a big fan of biscotti. They definitely have nice feelings and associations… when else do you have biscotti other than with tea or coffee? And tea and coffee means either a break, time to relax, or good old ramblings and nattering with someone special. Or that first cup of tea in the morning… that’s to die for! Anyway, getting off topic… the photographs on the other blogs made the biscotti look SO divine, so I thought I would give it a go! But one thing that puts me off of biscotti is that they are SUPER crunchy! I like crunchy things, but sometimes they’re too hard… maybe I’ve just had bad biscotti in the past? But either way, the ones I baked weren’t hard at all – they were still quite soft and fairly chewy with a really nice taste! More like soft biscuits/cookies than hard biscotti and remind me of Roman sweets. :)

The brownies are definitely my sort of thing though! Especially the banana ones, as I love banana! But then again, the coconut ones were so chocolately and moist, so I liked those, too. I did have a lot of complements the night that I took them to the rave at the box! And even afterwards, on Facebook, someone posted that they only remembered having little brownies/cakes that tasted delicious. I’m glad they went down so well! I’ve even had several people ask me for recipes, and so, here they are! Today, someone from the box even posted photos of this sweet potato pie that they had made, but added pumpkin in, too, and served it with Swedish glacé (dairy free ice cream)… and it looked so good!

It turns out that I have inspired quite a few people to cook more things and eat more paleolithically, and I’m always really pleased to hear such feedback. And not even regarding food and nutrition, but I’ve recently had feedback about how I inspire some people down at the box with their training and various other things. It really touches me every time I hear something like that, and really makes me feel great, as though my work on this planet is helping me to fulfil what I set out to do. If I can inspire people to try new things and push harder in order to try and better themselves in some way, then I am very happy, indeed. :) That’s what I believe we’re all here for, and I believe that’s what optimises the human experience!

Earlier that day we had a “leaving WOD,” beautifully crafted and it was a partner WOD, too, which are always fun. The atmosphere was epic! I was with Emily and we kicked butt! The WOD was as follows:
Cash in: kettlebell handwalk in plank position in pairs (using 3 KBs)
WOD: 30 partner alternating wall balls 9/6
30 partner alternating pull ups
30 partner alternating sit ups
30 partner synchro skips (1 rope)
30 partner alternating press ups (legs of one partner on another)
30 partner alternating plate complex 20/15
-cluster to overhead
-2 x alternating OH lunges
Both partners then stand on a 2.5kg plate for 5 seconds to finish WOD!

The photos from Crossfit are not mine, but nabbed from Facebook. :D

The photos of the hoodie are also another surprise in the post I received last week from a friend I made at PrimalCon a few weeks ago! It was such a thoughtful gift, and the postcards are of Emerald Bay around Lake Tahoe, as we toured there one evening on a beautiful boat. In return, I have posted a load of English tea to the US! He has tea most probably for life! Although if he drinks it at the rate I do, it certainly won’t be for life! I was very touched by this gift, as it was incredibly thoughtful, and will take place in my heart along with a few other special gestures I’ve received in my lifetime. Thank you. :)

Oh, what else? Plymouth Raiders won their basketball match on Sunday night again Durham Wildcats! It was a great match to watch and I’m so glad I was with my favourite people!

I could go on about a lot of different things, but I will stop there, and maybe save it for next time. ;) Here’s Monday’s WOD!

Monday’s WOD at CFP:
(After-party WOD I think!)
“The Grim Reaper and his gurned up mate”
In pairs with a 40 min timeout:
Push press 35/25
SDHP 35/25
KB swing 24/16
Press ups
Sit ups

Banana & Nut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x large bananas, chopped (+ 1 for decorating!)
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ~1 cup dried fruit and nuts (I used a mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, dried goji berries, pecans, dried physalis, large raisins, golden raisins and a handful of macadamias!)
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)

Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Use the one banana reserved for decoration by chopping it into 25 slices and arranging them on top of the batter. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

Coconut Brownies
Adapted from: Eat Drink Paleo

• 3 x small sweet potatoes
• 2 x eggs, beaten
• 2 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup coconut oil
• ½-1 cup of toasted, flaked coconut
• 1 cup of good quality, unsweetened, cocoa powder
• 2 tbsp coconut/almond flour
• 1 heaped tbsp baking powder (gluten free)
• White chocolate and double cream to decorate

Put the sweet potatoes, whole, in the oven at 175°C for an hour, or until they’re soft when inserting a knife in the centre. Leave to cool.

When cool, peel off the skin and mash the insides in a large bowl (keep the skins to pop in the oven for a primal-style pizza!). Add the rest of the ingredients (dry ingredients first, followed by the wet ingredients) and mix until well homogenised.

Spread in a baking tin lined with non-stick parchment paper (I used a silicon baking tin; they’re fantastic!) so that they’re 1″ thick. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 185°C, and let cool. Carefully remove the brownies and cut into sizes as big as you like. (In my case it’ll just be one big portion all for me!)

I used a 20 x 20 cm silicon baking tray, but I think a slightly smaller one would have been better for thicker brownies.

I melted white chocolate (not paleo, I know!) with double cream, spread it across and sprinkled flaked coconut all on top for decoration.

Chocolate & Pistachio Biscotti
Adapted from: Paleo Spirit

• 1 cup almond flour
• ¼ cup coconut flour
• ¼ good quality cocoa powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup pistachios, halved/crushed
• 100 g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. The dough should keep its shape when pressed together, otherwise you may have added too much syrup!

Form the dough into one 1″ thick log on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Cut into ½” thick slices, place on their side, and put back into a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool before decorating and serving. I covered the biscotti in the white chocolate/double cream glaze I made for the coconut brownies, but it didn’t look as nice as I hoped it would! I think pure, intense white chocolate would have been better, but we live and learn! :)

Honey, Lemon & Almond Cookies
Adapted from: Steak, and Sass

• 1 cup almond flour
• ½ cup coconut flour
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt
• zest of 1 lemon
• 8 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• ½ cup maple syrup
• ½ cup honey
• ½ cup slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until homogenised. Spread onto a baking tray (with large sides!) lined with baking paper, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely (about an hour).

Scoop the dough up, shape little balls of equal size, and press onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Let cool entirely before serving.

All baked in my lovely kitchen: 24.10.2013

Macarons au Chocolat

Chocolate macarons are my most favourite macaron. They’re so beautifully rich, and the osmotic-like absorption of the ganache’s flavour from the shell makes them so much more delectable. But they’re also incredibly simple to make… once you’ve got the technique. After I made the macarons for the second time, I knew the recipe and what to do off by heart. It’s not the recipe itself that’s difficult; it’s just keeping an eye on the consistency of the batter (i.e. knowing what to look for), and getting to know your oven!

Perhaps I’ve finally mastered the recipe and got to grips with my oven?! Or perhaps not… just because I’ve made decent looking macarons a couple of times doesn’t mean a thing! Especially as on a more recent attempt, they failed completely.

I ran out of icing sugar, and used desiccated coconut in place of the almonds. When I baked the cookies, they developed no foot at all, and had a completely different texture to regular macaron shells. However, I still sandwiched them with the chocolate ganache and put them forward in the badminton league buffet. I did get compliments though, as they were quite tasty, although nothing like the macaron I was hoping for!

There are many variations of making macarons posted all over the internet; some people try it and have great success, while others try and have little. Sometimes it’s just that the instructions can be quite ambiguous. When a recipe states something along the lines of “now, incorporate the almonds and icing sugar with the egg whites, being sure not to over mix. You know that you’ve over mixed when the batter is dull,” it can mean anything! But for me, the most important part of making macarons was the “macaronage,” which some people use to refer to the part where the almonds and icing sugar are incorporated into the egg whites, and the right amount of air is knocked out of the whites. If the batter is over mixed it will become very runny, and won’t be able to hold its shape when piped. However, if it’s under mixed, you won’t get a perfectly smooth shell and too many air bubbles inside. The piped macaron shells are then left on the worktop for about an hour to air-dry. This helps to create a hard shell, so that when the air inside of the macaron shell expands in the oven, the shell is forced upwards thus creating the “foot” at the bottom. If the shell isn’t tough enough, then it’ll crack and no foot will develop. I have read on a few other blogs that leaving them out to “air-dry” wasn’t a necessity for them, but in my experience, is it a necessity for me!

The following video is a great instructional video on how to make macarons. The part about knocking the air out of the egg whites was what I found the most helpful: if you plop some of your batter onto a plate before baking, and the peak slowly disappears, then you’ve got the perfect batter. It should have a “magma” like consistency. I found that to be a top tip!

I use a roasting tin with parchment paper to bake my macarons, because it doesn’t distort with the heat of the oven, therefore giving lopsided shells. Also, I place the roasting pan on top of a broiler pan in the lower part of my oven. This stops the heat from the bottom of the oven being too harsh on the shells, and also keeps the macarons perfectly at mid/lower-level in my oven! However, I can only bake about a maximum of 12 shells at a time. So macaron baking requires patience!

The temperature at which people bake their macarons is also a hot topic. Too low or too high temperatures result in undesirable consequences, which is why it’s important to “get-to-know” your oven. A further note is that the size of the macaron shell I believe is entirely of your choice, as I’ve seen and bought macarons of varying sizes. Some like them rather large but other prefer them bite-size. Personally, I prefer slightly larger maracons, that require two or three minute bites. But that’s just me. :-)

And finally, macarons do taste better with time, which probably goes against almost all rules of French pâtisserie! But I suppose that as macarons aren’t pastry, the rules of pastry don’t apply. It takes time for the shells to absorb the flavour of the ganache, which gives them a very soft and flavourful interior. Some people recommend eating them after 2 days, but the ones that I bought from Zürich airport (along with other sources) suggested up to 5 days for maximum flavour. In fact, the blog Not So Humble Pie suggests that if you’re leaning towards either over or under-baking your macarons, go towards over-baking them, because if they’re a little too dry, the moistness from the ganache can help to rectify the issue after a few days of mingling!

A great trouble-shooting guide, as well as other tips and discussions, can be found here.

Macarons au Chocolat
Adapted from: Not So Humble Pie and Kokken 69
Makes 8-10 shells (4-5 macarons)

For the shells:
• lemon juice
• 40g ground almonds
• 57g icing sugar
• 10g cocoa powder (or replace with icing sugar and add some vanilla essence instead)
• 35g egg whites
• 11g granulated sugar

For the ganache: (enough for about 15-20 macarons!)
• 200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
• 200g double cream
• 70g butter, at room temperature

For the shells:
Add a splash of lemon juice to a very clean bowl together with the egg whites. Whisk for about 30-60 seconds until very frothy. Sprinkle in the granulated sugar, and continue to whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (the kind where you can hold the bowl upside down over your head!).

Then sieve in the icing sugar, cocoa powder and ground almonds together over the egg white peaks. Now, this is the part some people refer to as “macaronage” (i.e. macaron-ing). Use a wooden spoon or pastry scraper to knock the air out of the batter. Use the spoon to scoop the batter around the outer edges of the interior of the bowl and then almost scrape the batter down the middle of the bowl in a zig-zag pattern until the final consistency is similar to that of magma. A useful video to watch can be found here.

A test to see if the batter is of the appropriate magma-like consistency is to take a clean plate, and dollop a spoonful in the middle. If the peak slowly disappears into itself, then the batter is ready. If it’s still visible after about 30 seconds or so, then it needs some more air knocking out! If the batter is too runny, then you’ve over mixed!

Prepare a heavy-duty baking sheet with baking parchment. Spoon the batter into your piping bag (or icing syringe, etc.), and dollop macarons onto the parchment paper, leaving at least an inch worth of space between each shell. This depends entirely on how large you want your macarons.

Bash the tray on the surface of the worktop 4 times, rotating each time. This forces air bubbles in the macaron batter to rise to the top. Use a toothpick to pop any large ones. Leave the macarons on the side for an hour to air dry, so that they’re not sticky or tacky to a light touch.

Preheat the oven to 155◦C, ensuring that you do not use fan assist. Pop the tray into the lower half of the oven for 16-18 minutes.

Leave to cool completely before peeling the shells off the parchment.

For the ganache:
Melt the chocolate and cream over a low heat in a saucepan; allow to cool to around 50C. Cut up the butter in a bowl, pour over the chocolate sauce, and whip until smooth. Pop into the fridge until thick enough to pipe. Before piping, leave the bowl out of the fridge for a while to bring the ganache up to room temperature.

Assembling the macaron:
Fill an icing syringe or piping bag with the ganache, and dollop a splodge into the centre of a macaron shell; not too much or too little. It takes a little practice to get the right amount, so that when the two shells are sandwiched together, the ganache spreads to the edges of the shell but no farther, and so that there’s a smooth, unblemished edge around the ganache. Pop in the fridge for anywhere between 2-5 days before taking out of the fridge to bring it up to room temperature before devouring. :-)

Bon appétit!!

Shells baked: 19.12.2011, shells filled: 20.12.2011.

Spotted Dick with Cherry Compote and Vanilla Bean Custard

For Father’s Day, I asked dad what I could cook for him as a ‘gift.’ He asked for Thai Green Curry and Spotted Dick.

This recipe I found called for a strawberry and rhubarb rather than cherries. I was going for blueberries, but there weren’t any in the fridge, even though I swear that there were! So I opted for cherries! It would have been nice to have had more (so I doubled the amount that I used in the recipe below), as mine only just managed to cover the top.

Ours was with a vanilla bean custard, which was extremely good! But I made mine ahead and reheated it later, but unfortunately it was a little lumpy and not too attractive to the eye. However it still tasted delicious. :-)

Here’s a nice image of dad and his mum on Mother’s Day in 2008. And a handsome image of Tim, just thrown into the mix :-)

Spotted Dick with Cherry Compote
Adapted from: There’s A Newf in My Soup
Serves 16

For the cherry compote:
• 300g cherries, pitted
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 1 x sachet gelatine
• 2 tbsp brandy
• 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the spotted dick:
• butter and flour, for greasing
• 10 tbsp/170g butter or suet
• 1¼ cups/300g sugar
• 4 x eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 2¾ cups/340g self-raising flour
• 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 cup/150g dried fruit

For the cherry compote:
Mix the sugar and gelatine in a bowl. Then add the cherries, lemon juice and brandy, and simmer over low heat until thick and syrupy – about 15 minutes.

In the meantime, butter a cake tin, then dust with flour (knocking the excess out).

Pour the syrup in the bottom of the tin, arranging the cherries (without burning yourself!) in a pretty fashion. Leave to cool at room temp. until set.

For the spotted dick:
Trace a circle on parchment paper slightly larger than the cake tin, and cut out.

Melt the butter in a large bowl, add the sugar, and cream with a wooden spoon until pale and smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Sift the flour into the mixture, and beat until well combined. Then add the milk and beat, also. Dollop the mixture on top of the cherry compote, and flatten out.

Fill a large, shallow pan with water, and put some metal cookie cutters or something in the bottom to create a platform on which to place the cake tin, about 1” above the water. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat down so it simmers.

Put the cake tin on top of the platform, cover the tin with the parchment paper, and put the lod on the pan. Steam for about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. If using little ramekins, it will be about 1 hour.

The spotted dick will puff up a lot. I used a bread knife to even the bottom of mine before I inverted it onto a plate, and sliced it, and served it with homemade vanilla custard. :-)

Vanilla Bean Custard
Adapted from: Bite My Thumb
Serves 4-6

• 3 x egg yolks
• 1 cup/250ml double cream
• 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (1 tsp vanilla essence)
• 3 tbsp sugar

Boil water in a small saucepan.

Whisk the cream and egg yolks in a Pyrex bowl until smooth throughout. Then add the vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla essence) and sugar, and whisk until homogeneous.

Place the bowl over the simmering water (this is known as a bain-marie), and whisk continuously so no lumps form. The mixture should be whisked for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and forms a custard like colour and consistency.

Remove the bowl from the pan and pour over your dessert, and enjoy :-)

Enjoy :-)

Enjoyed: 19.06.2011

Pains au Chocolat (Chocolatines)

Pains au chocolat! Or chocolatines as they’re known in south western France. I’m so pleased with how this puff pastry turned out; buttery, flaky and crispy goodness…mmm. :-) I even made a white chocolate one especially for mum… I wish I made more! It was a lot sweeter, which complemented the neutral flavoured buttery puff pastry. I only made one with white chocolate because I thought “well, if they’re not in the shops, then they can’t be that good.” But oh, did I think wrong! It was beautiful!

I think that the only thing I would have done differently was to make them about 2/3s of the size that they were, which means there would have been 16 chocolate breads in total. But they’re nice, either way. The only positive thing about them being fairly large, is that if you’re feeling like a pig you can have a big one, or have half fresh from the oven hot, and the other half later cold (i.e. saves on reheating the oven each time you want one/want to heat only one!).

Photo-guide: how to fold them (another useful link for how to make puff pastry and pains au chocolat can be found here:

Pains au Chocolat
Adapted from: Les Gourmandises d’Isa
Makes 12-16

For the pâte (dough):
• 7g sachet dried active yeast
• 200ml milk
• ½ cup/100g sugar
• 1 cup/165g plain flour
• 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
• 2 x eggs, beated
• 2 ¼/365g cups flour
• 1 tsp salt

For the beurrage (butter block):
• 250g unsalted butter
• ¼ cup/45g flour

To assemble:
• 400g chocolate

To brown:
• 1 x egg, beated
• 2 tbsp milk

For the pâte:
Put the milk in a large bowl, and microwave it on high for 30 seconds (until warm/lukewarm). Add the yeast and mix, then leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Weigh 100g/measure ½ cup of sugar, and from that take 2 tbsp and put it in with the milk. Then sieve in the flour and mix well with a spoon.

In a large separate bowl, beat the 2 eggs, add the vanilla essence, remaining sugar, and sieve in the rest of the flour. Mix well by hand (or with a mixer fitted with a dough hook). Add the yeast mixture in, and knead for 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with clingfilm. Leave at room temperature for 2 hours, and then place in the fridge overnight.

For the beurrage:
Use the flour throughout the rest of the process to flour the work surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle (35 x 30 x 0.5cm or 18 x 13 x ¼ “). Spread the butter on 2/3 of the dough (the right and middle portions). Fold the dough in 3 (fold the left flap over the middle, then the right flap over the rest). If it’s not perfectly rectangular, fold the bottoms and top slightly over the make it so. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Then take the dough out of the fridge, and put it back on the counter as it was. Turn it a ¼ to your left (so it’s now facing you lengthways, not widthways), and roll the dough again until it’s a rectangle of the same size as before. As before, fold the dough into 3. Return to the fridge for 30 minutes wrapped in cling film.

Repeat the above step one last time, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 60 x 33 x 0.5cm (25 x 15 x ¼ “), and cut into 8-12 rectangles of the same/similar size.

To assemble:
Break up your chocolate into little pieces, and spread across the top of a rectangle. Roll the pastry down to engulf the chocolate. Break up more chocolate pieces, and spread it across the rectangle immediately below the first roll of chocolate. Then use the rest of the pastry to roll up the second chocolate line. Continue to do this with the rest of the pastry rectangles.

To bake:
Beat an egg with a fork, and add 2 tbsps milk. Use a pastry brush to light brush the egg across the the whole pain au chocolat. Put on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Bake in an oven preheated at 180◦C for 20 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp. Serve fresh from the oven.

Bon appétit!!

Baked 12.06.2011

Conquering Puff Pastry | Raspberry, Almond & Cream Cheese Danish Pastries

I have never made anything with puff pastry before; I’ve been fearful of it after having heard such horrifying things about puff pastry going wrong. However, after having handed in my dissertation and having another badminton league match, I decided to give these Danish pastries a go; something that I simply cannot resist. Well, seeing as this was my first time, perhaps I should have followed a recipe that was in English, not Spanish…but I think it all turned out OK in the end!

There were tonnes of these pastries wherever I went in Buenos Aires. The residence I stayed in gave a choice of pastries for breakfast, from which we were allowed up to three each, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Me being me, I always got as much as I could get, and saved some for breakfast the next day, or for dessert, or for the weekends. There would be some delicious pastry horns filled with dulce de leche (which were a favourite of mine!), croissants (or “medialunas”), or Danish pastries with jam and a sort of custard design on top. To be honest, all three we delicious. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we would get two or three small slices of toast on either white or brown bread, with a choice of butter, jam and/or dulce de leche. Or on each day, you could choose to have cereal instead, with juice (“jugo” in Latin America), tea or coffee.

I gave two of these to Ed, ate about 5 throughout the day (eep!), left about 10 at home for the rest of the family, and took the rest to the badminton -> they were all gone (and I didn’t have any there, but there were two matches being played that night so twice the amount of people!). At first, from a distance, they thought they were the Argentinian “pasties” (empanadas) that I made for the match before, but everyone was complimenting them and saying that they tasted really nice! Not only that, but…. we are now Division 1 players for the ladies league! How cool is that? We’ve been promoted! :-D

When making puff pastry, there are two key elements: the détrempe (which is a mixture of flour and water), and the beurrage (or “butter block”). What you have to do, is simply roll out the détrempe, and use it to enclose a sheet or block or butter (the beurrage). Then it gets folded over and rolled, over and over again, to form layers of détrempe and beurrage.

I made the pastry the day before, and left it in the fridge overnight, before rolling it out and baking them in time for the league match the same evening. However, before I made the pastry, I watched the video below; even if you can’t understand anything, it’s incredibly useful to watch:

I’m not afraid of puff pastry anymore! Well, I still am, a little: When I was rolling the dough, it got to a point where I felt like slinging it out the window because it became incredibly sticky and impossible to roll. I think these tips when rolling out the dough will make it easier, as it definitely helped me:

  • Roll the dough ~¼” thick: too thin and it’ll tear and not be a puffy in the oven.
  • Be generous with flouring the rolling pin and work surfaces.
  • Work with small sections of dough: it’s a lot easier than trying to roll the whole dough out in one piece!
  • And finally, keep to dough as cold as possible. All of that butter, when it starts to get to room temperature, makes it incredibly difficult to handle.

    Although my pastries do look like a 10 year old child constructed them, I definitely want to tackle puff pastry again. This weekend I wanted to make a pear, apple and raisin strudel, but because of the amount of work I have to do I’ll give it a miss and reward myself perhaps the week after. It’s just, this weekend my nanny’s down from London, we’re meeting up with my other nanny on Sunday and my boyfriend is coming to my house on Monday. So if I made a large strudel this weekend, then we could all have it for dessert on Sunday and Monday. Oh well, there will be other times. Perhaps for next week’s match (the last one of the season :-( ) I can try croissants or pains aux chocolate.

    Next time I make these, I’ll definitely be filling them up with dulce de leche! :-D So please give this a go, keeping this little tips in mind:

  • Roll the dough ~¼” thick: too thin and it’ll tear and not be a puffy in the oven.
  • Be generous with flouring the rolling pin and work surfaces.
  • Work with small sections of dough: it’s a lot easier than trying to roll the whole dough out in one piece!
  • And finally, keep to dough as cold as possible. All of that butter, when it starts to get to room temperature, makes it incredibly difficult to handle.
  • Be persistent and take your time. :-)

    Raspberry, Almond & Cream Cheese Danish Pastries
    Source: Food and Cook
    I made 37 oddly shaped pastries

    Détrempe (& beurrage):
    • 200ml cold water
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 150g strong white flour
    • 250g plain flour
    • 500g butter, at room temp. (the beurrage)

    Crema de almendra (almond cream): (taken from Cuinant)
    • 100g ground almonds
    • 100g sugar (I used 10g of Hermesetas sweetener)
    • 60g butter, melted
    • 2 x small eggs
    • 15g cornflour

    • crema de almendra (above)
    • 120g cream cheese
    • 60g icing sugar
    • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
    • 1 x egg, separated
    • almonds, slithered
    • 1 x jar of raspberry jam

    For the glaze:
    • milk
    • icing sugar

    For the détrempe & beurrage:
    Measure out the cold water in a jug, and put in the salt, letting is dissolve slowly. Melt 75g butter in a large bowl (set aside the rest of the butter and keep it at room temp.). Sieve the flour into the butter, and add the cold water/salt solution. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth and evenly combined.

    Use your hands to form a ball, and score two deep cuts in the dough to form a cross with a knife. Wrap in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for 2 hours.

    Remove from the fridge and leave for about 10 minutes to bring the dough back up to room temp. (this will make it easier to handle). Then, roll out the dough, trying to form a sort of cross, suing the scores you made earlier as a guide. It doesn’t have to be neat, just make sure the middle is thicker than the rest of the dough.

    Place the remainder of the butter as a large block in the middle of the dough, and wrap the dough around the butter, like a package. Make sure the butter isn’t too warm; otherwise it’ll make the dough greasy.

    Then, use a rolling pin and bash the dough down to flatten it out. Fold the dough over, and bash it down again, whilst turning it over. Then fold it once more and bash it down. Do this a couple more times, before folding it over, wrapping it in clingfilm and putting it in the fridge for another two hours. Don’t worry if it isn’t 100% homogenous at this stage.

    Then repeat the above step twice or three times more, including leaving it in the fridge for two hours. By this time, the dough should be fairly homogenous throughout. The dough should be fairly springy when pressed with a finger, and can be frozen or kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.

    For the filling:
    To make the crema de almendra: Melt the butter in a large bowl, and mix in the ground almonds with a wooden spoon. Add the sugar and cornflour, and mix well. Add each egg, one by one, and the vanilla essence and mix again.

    For the filling, mix the egg yolk (reserving the egg white for later), in a bowl with the almond cream, cream cheese, vanilla essence and icing sugar until smooth.

    Remove the dough from the fridge; roughly roll it out so that you can use a pastry cutter to cut it into 4 pieces. Then, wrap each one individually and put back into the fridge. Keep one out so that you can work with it. It’s a lot easier to handle the dough when it’s as cold as possible. You can keep the dough in the fridge for up to two days, or up to a month in the freezer.

    Assembling the pastries:
    Use a rolling pin (and plenty of flour) to roll out the dough to about a ¼“ thick, then use the pastry cutter to cut the dough into 10cm x 10cm squares.

    Spread a tablespoon of the almond cream filling diagonally from one corner to one the other in a line over the pastry square. Then place a small teaspoon of raspberry jam and mash that across with the other filling, too. Try to keep only a thin layer in the corners, otherwise the filling will spill out in the oven.

    Sprinkle the filling with slithered almonds, and brush the rest of the pastry with egg white. Wrap the two other corners (without filling) over the centre of the pastry square, and brush the outside with egg white, and sprinkle a few more slithered almonds on.

    Do this for with the next dough piece, and continue until all has been used.

    Baking the puff pastry:
    When ready, preheat the oven to 180◦C, and pop all pastries on a baking tray, giving each one ample room as they do puff up. You will probably have to do this in batches. Leave them in the oven until the pastry turns golden brown in colour.

    Final touches:
    Let the pastries cool. Mix together a little milk and a little bit of icing sugar to form a smooth and slightly runny consistency, which can then be drizzled on top of the pastries to decorate.

    Bon Appétit!!

  • Parfait au Chocolat avec Fraises | Chocolate Parfait with Strawberries

    Parfait is French for “perfect.”I always used to be confused by this term, because I’ve seen parfaits in long glasses, or served in a loaf shape, but it simply refers to a kind of frozen dessert made of eggs and cream. Well, that’s the French version, I believe the American version are those parfaits made in tall glasses with whipped cream and layered fruits, berries and liqueurs.

    I saw this parfait in That’s Life magazine, and it looked scrumptious! It was served with raspberries as opposed to strawberries, but obviously you could change the type of berry pretty easily.

    I think that the parfait would have had a more appealing look had I have used dark chocolate, which wouldn’t have made the dessert look so anaemic. Also, those light coloured streaks are olive oil; the magazine recommended oiling the inside of the clingfilm, but I don’t think that was entirely necessary as it peeled off quite easily from the bottom of the parfait (where I didn’t oil it). Also, lining with with tin foil may have given the parfait less of a wrinkly-effect.

    This dessert did have such a lovely, creamy, rich flavour though, that melted in the mouth and left a wonderful after-taste. :-D

    Chocolate Parfait with Strawberries
    Parfait au Chocolat avec Fraises

    Source: That’s Life Magazine, 24th March 2011, Issue 12, Page 26
    Serves: 8-16 (depending on the thickness of the slice)

    • 400g milk or dark chocolate
    • 4 x egg yolks
    • 2 x cartons (586ml) double cream
    • 100g sugar (I used 10g of Hermesetas sweetener)

    Line a loaf tin with clingfilm. Break the chocolate in a large bowl, and microwave until melted, making sure you stir it after every 30 seconds or so to stop it from burning. Or you could melt it over a bain marie.

    Separate the eggs and pop the yolks into another bowl, along with the sugar, and whisk with a fork until well combined. Pour the chocolate over the egg yolks.

    In a blender, blend the cream until it forms stiff peaks, and then fold into the chocolate and egg mixture.

    The dollop the mixture into the loaf tin, and spread the top so that it’s smooth. Cover the top with clingfilm, and freeze for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

    Before serving, remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes beforehand, remove from the loaf tin, and then slice into slices using a warm knife (run it under hot water for a couple of seconds).

    Bon Appétit!!

    Dulce de Leche | A Molten Disaster

    Have you ever tried dulce de leche? It’s sort of like the South American equivalent of Nutella in Europe. It’s absolutely delicious. It’s one of those things you can’t buy in the UK unless you go to a speciality shop. However, you’ll be pleased to know that you can make it in your very own home! And all you need is a can of sweetened condensed milk!

    It’s impossible to have just one spoonful…

    Dulce de leche can be used in many baking recipes, such as alfajores, which are Argentinian confectionery-style biscuits. They’re also found in lots of pastries, and can be used to spread on toast and bread, like Nutella! When I was staying in Argentina, I made a good friend with someone from China, and he would out a spoonful into warm milk every morning for breakfast. My Peruvian friend thought this was weird, but hey, whatever floats ones boat! I have also read of other recipes for making your own condensed milk, which perhaps I’ll try one day…

    Alfajores getting ready to be sandwiched together with a generous dollop of dulce de leche.

    There are quite a few ways to transform a can of condensed milk into dulce de leche, such as in the microwave, on the stove top or in the oven. The best and easiest way for me, I find, is the oven. All you have to do, is follow the instructions given below. And please, follow them… This is speaking from experience. This weekend, I accidentally forgot to put the milk in a dish containing water, and here was the end result:

    My molten dulce de leche disaster!

    You’ve probably gathered that the loaf pan was completely unusable afterwards.

    The funny thing is, is that our oven had a very good seal, and so we didn’t smell the smoke until we opened the door! Although my mum did comment on a strong smell, she thought she’d just leave me to it.

    So, basically, please don’t forget the water…

    Here is what it is supposed to look like out of the oven; smooth, creamy and delicious.

    Dulce de Leche

    • 1 x can of sweetened condensed milk

    1. Preheat the oven to 210-220◦C.
    2. Empty the contents into an oven proof dish, approx. 9 x 5″. Cover with tin foil
    3. Put that dish into a bigger dish, and fill with about 2 1/2 – 3cm worth of water.
    4. Then leave in the oven for an hour.
    5. And voila! You have delicious dulce de leche! :-) Spread on bread, put in cakes, or simply eat straight from the pot…

    ¡¡Buen Provecho!!

    Dulce de leche goes well with:
    Banana bread

    Recipe ideas with dulce de leche:
    Banoffee pie
    Puff pastry