Saturday, 26 February 2011

The secret is out there...(Oreo Truffles)

I have lost count of the number of times that I have made "Oreo Truffles" now.
If I'm totally honest, it pains me slightly to admit just how easy they are as people are always so impressed and you'd swear they required a lot of skill - they don't. My cover has now been oficially blown.
You can make them as complicated as you like though really, getting away with just 3 ingredients if you so wish or creating some different looking ones.

Clearly these had a few more than 3 ingredients, but the centre is the same in every one, it's just the finish that's different.

So, for the filling you need:

3 tubes (154g each) of oreo biscuits
1 x 225g pack of normal (not light) Philadelphia cheese. Use 200g, not the whole thing.
Large bar of chocolate to melt

(and whatever finishing ingredients you like...)

Yes, that's right, cheese! But it's what great cheesecaskes are made of so not really that weird when you think about it a bit more!

So, you blitz the 3 packs of oreos (including their foamy biscuit middles) in a food processor until they are fine crumbs - I tried a sandwich bag and a rolling pin to hammer them into bits before I borrowed Bella's food processor - "the sandwich bag technique" did not work! I spent ages on it and still had shards of biscuit in my truffles - awful!

Then you dunp the crumbs in a big bowl and mix together with 200g of the philadelphia (that has been out of the fridge for 10 mins or so). The whole pack of philadelphia made them a bit too wet and tacky I found.

Ball them up into spheres that are about 2cm in diameter and place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper.
Refrigerate until you are ready to coat them in chocolate, sprinkles, chopped,roasted nuts etc.
Now you have a choice...

You can either get your refrigerated truffle and toss it around in melted chocolate with 2 forks before transferring to a wire rack, or... you can put the balls onto a wire rack and pour the chocolate on top (as Ruth from the fabulous "Pink Whisk" blog) shows you here...

Keep these in the fridge before and after serving because:-

a) They taste better
b) They have cheese in them so you could make yourself ill otherwise.

Original recipe adapted from seeing it on the amazing "Bakerella" website.

And here they are, my oreo truffles that I gave as gift by putting them into a tomato tray and covering with cellophane. I also made some of these for Shree's curry night and instead served them up on a bright red plate sprinkled with a good covering of edible glitter to create something that had a bit more Indian charm... was in too much of a rush to photograph on Saturday though, you'll have to trust me that they looked cute!

J :)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Because the lady loves almonds...

I wanted to make Kirstie a birthday cake and she went so mad for the Amaretto on NYE, that I knew she was a big almond fan. I decided to make the cherry and almond (bakewell-esque) cake from
Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache by Harry Eastwood.
I find once I've made something 3 times the process is more or less committed to memory and I can make it in half the time. Having made one of these for Shree's curry night this week also, I need an excuse to make one more; is half-term excuse enough...? I think so!

And the secret ingredient in this is 2 small-ish maris piper potatoes! It creates quite an unusual mix of aromas when it's cooking but the potato gives it a really good texture and holds it all together really well.
So here it is...

What you need:

2x 18cm-diameter x 5cm deep, loose-bottomed tins
2x Greaseproof baking paper circles {cut to the the size of removable bases (18cm diameter)}

250g glace cherries
(Sainsburys and Tescos only sold 200g, they were fine - the "ready-halved" ones were even better)
3 medium free-range eggs (ROOM temperature)
180g caster sugar
200g finely grated potato (e.g maris piper [low water content])
100g rice flour (I used normal) plus 2 extra tsps to coat cherries
1 tsp almond extract
100g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
very finely grated zest of half an unwaxed lemon (finest possible shred)

About 2/3 of a jar of quality red cherry jam (Bonne Maman was nice)

20g of toasted almond flakes
1 tsp icing sugar
small sprinkle of ground cinnamon

What you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly brush the tins with veg. oil or butter, then line the tins with greaseproof paper and oil again.

2. Cut the cherries in half (if they aren't already and coat in the reserved flour.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for 5 mins until pale and light.

4. Next, beat in the grated potato until well combined. Finally, add the flour, ground almonds, almond extract, baking powder, salt and lemon zest until well incorporated.

5. Divide the mixture between the two sandwich tins and gently place the cherries on top of each cake so that they are slightly sunken into the mixture. Place them in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.

6. Once cooked, remove the cakes from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 mins. Gently peel away the baking parchment.

7. Toast the flaked almonds until just golden in a dry pan if you didn't buy the ready toasted ones.

8. Spread a generous layer of cherry jam onto one half of the cake.

9. Put other half of cake on top, sprinkle with the flaked almonds a dusting of the icing sugar and cinnamon mixed together.


Sunday, 13 February 2011

Everyone got Chocolate Brownies.

I'm about to make a bold statement... I think these chocolate brownies are the best things that I have ever made! And as you will probably know, the sheer scale of stuff that I like to make, makes that quite a statement. I could've so happily eaten the whole lot myself but I selflessly distributed them; I had to spread the word.
I urge you to give these a go, you will not be disappointed!

The recipe came from the truly wonderful Hummingbird Bakery cookbook,
but I "pimped it up" a little.

Original recipe for "Traditional Brownie"

What you need:

200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (that was 2 standard "divine" bars for me.
175g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
130g plain flour
3 eggs
icing sugar (to decorate)

Then, in addition, I put in a small bag of mixed nuts that I roughly chopped, a handful of milk chocolate chips and 2 small packets of milky bar buttons.

Recommended tray was 33x23x5cm (Mine was smaller, about 28x23 and I think that was a good thing)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth.

Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until well incorporated.

Add the flour and stir until well incorporated.

Finally, stir in the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.

Then I folded in my extra things.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until flaky on the top but still soft in the centre. Be careful not to overcook otherwise the edges will become hard and crunchy. Leave to cool before cutting into rectangles.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Then I used the lovely gold foil that the divine chocolate came in to make a birthday portion for Kirstie:

Now that really does beat a sandwich bag, doesn't it...

Then, I knew Priya would want a sample but I had no chocolate wrap left,
what I did have however, was... tin foil!

And look at the lovely texture that this foil has, (little diamonds) - very cute!

But the main motivation for making these brownies was my dinner night on Wednesday for Rhi, Bella, Baz and Nic. When I was teaching Wednesday morning I picked up a plastic magnetic letter and thought, yes, great, I'll make personalised brownies for my dinner party dessert!
So I printed off their initials, carefully cut them out and used them as stencils for dusting their brownies with icing sugar. We ate "Arial" letters out of icing sugar but I tried a more complicated font the 2nd time - I think it's good to push yourself if you're a confident cutter-outer!
I should also say that I turned the brownies over to stencil them as the cracked surface wouldn't have worked so well to give a good finish.

This is a "J" in "French Script MT".

When re-creating mine to eat the next day I went a step further and stenciled the spoon with cocoa powder as an extra feature. Can you tell I'm really enjoying my new mini sieve? (from Occasion Cakes - £2).

So, finally here is my hot chocolate brownie with green and Blacks vanilla ice-cream, toffee sauce and a few roasted, chopped hazlenuts. Wow!

Oh, and Kevin got some and Nicky got some and Simon got some
(if Nicky managed to leave any of her portion for him). I would've struggled...


Thursday, 3 February 2011

Belated Blackberry & Brambley Apple Birthday Loaf Cake

After I'd finished watching Murray get demolished in the Australian open final on Sunday morning I drove back to Wales to attend my Godson's 2nd birthday lunch and to catch up with the family.
It was also my Mum's birthday a couple of weeks ago and so after lunch on Saturday I whizzed up a "Blackberry and Apple loaf cake" (mainly because Harriet, Priya and I ate the one I whizzed up Saturday morning).

Mmmmm... those crushed sugar lumps on the top were amazing!

If you'd like to give this a go:-

You will need:

Butter for greasing
350g / 12oz cooking apples
3 tbsp lemon juice
350g / 12oz self-raising wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
115g / 4 oz light muscavado sugar
1 egg, beaten
200 ml low-fat natural yogurt
55g / 2 oz white or brown sugar lumps crushed

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.
Grease and line a 900g loaf tin

Peel core and finely dice the apples. Place them in a saucepan with the lemon juice, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until soft and pulpy. Beat well and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder and Cinnamon into a bowl, adding any husks that remain in the sieve. Stir in 70g of the blackberries.

Make a well in the centre of the ingredients and add the egg, yogurt and cooled apple puree. Mix well to incorporate thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Sprinkle the remaining blackberries, pressing them into the cake mixture and top with the crushed sugar lumps. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside in the tin to cool.

Remove the cake from the tin and peel away the lining paper. Serve dusted with cinnamon.

And the recipe came from a cute little book that I got given the last time I was in Wales.
"I love Sugar" (a Marks and Spencers dessert collection) has some really nice recipes. Thank you Sarah :)

And I've been flicking through deciding upon what to make next, marking the pages with these adorable little skinny Paperchase post-its that were part of my Xmas present from Priya....

My friends know me so well :)

J :)