Sweet Bretzels

As I am writing this, the scent of freshly baked Bretzels has filled the room and it’s very hard to resist having a bite! To give you an idea, it smells of  brioche with a hint of orange flower water and it’s just heavenly. These goodies will take a bit of time to make (mostly waiting time) but you will be rewarded I promise.

Bretzels_001

Source: Christophe Felder

Bretzels_002

Ingredients

Starter dough
15g fresh yeast or 7g dried instant yeast
75g milk
70g + 255g plain flour

Dough
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar or extract
1 tsp fine sea salt
115g softened butter, cut into cubes
80g candied peel
1 tbsp orange flower water

Eggwash
1 egg and 1 tbsp milk

Glaze
35g sugar
35g water
1 tbsp orange flower water

Method

  1. In the Thermomix bowl, warm the yeast and milk 2 min/37C/speed 1.
  2. Add the 70g flour and mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  3. Add the 255g flour on top (don’t mix) and leave to rest in the TM bowl, lid closed, for 30 minutes or until the starter doubles in size.
  4. Add the 3 eggs, sugar and salt and knead 2 minutes.
  5. Knead for another 5 minutes and add the butter through the hole in the lid, orange flower water and candied peel.
  6. When the timer stops, check the consistency (it should be very soft and sticky dough but not runny. If it looks too much like cake batter, add a couple of tbsp of flour and knead again for 1 minute.
  7. Tip out into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest for 3 hours in the fridge to firm up.
  8. Divide the dough in 4 equal parts and roll each into a snake shape making the ends slightly narrower than the center.
  9. Cross the ends twice and fold them over the loop. Turn the bretzel upside-down (to have the ends tucked in underneath) on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Do likewise with the other 3 doughs. You have those steps in images on the website Smittenkitchen.com (I forgot to take the pictures while making it).

    Image from Smittenkitchen.com

    Image from Smittenkitchen.com

  10. Place in a warm place (25C) and leave to rise for 40 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 180C.
  12. Brush the bretzels with eggwash.
  13. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce to 170C and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Watch while it cooks and turn around the trays if one side gets browner (often the case with ovens with hot spots). Place aluminium foil over them if they darken too fast.
  14. While they bake, prepare the glaze by heating the water, sugar and orange flower water in the TM bowl 5 minutes/Varoma/speed 1/Measuring cup OFF.
  15. Brush the glaze over the Bretzels as soon as they are out of the oven. Leave to cool slightly before tucking in!

Bretzels_003

Mont Blanc and Merveilleux au chocolat

I must apologise for my long absence from the blog. I have still been cooking but didn’t find the time or the will to post anything on the net. With Christmas coming, I have been trying new things that I wanted to make for a long time but never got the right ingredients or never got around to do. Since those 2 recipes have the same basis, as in: a meringue and some Chantilly cream, I decided to do them both so you are getting 2 for the price of one (this is my gift to you ;-) ).

So what are these 2 desserts? Both Mont Blanc and the Merveilleux are great French classics (although the first one originates from Italy and the second comes from Belgium). The Merveilleux has long been my favourite dessert as a child but the Mont Blanc is equally as delicious with its Chestnut topping.

I didn’t make these with the Thermomix although I could have so I will give you the instructions both ways.

MontblancCollage

Source: inspired by the Mont Blanc recipe by Christophe Michalak

Ingredients

Meringue
120g egg whites (about 4 eggs)
112g caster sugar
112g icing sugar

Chantilly
200g single cream
50g Mascarpone
25g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod

Chestnut topping
200g chestnut purée
150g chestnut spread (I put 75g)
200g chestnut paste (didn’t find it so omitted, hence the half amount of Chestnut spread)
50g softened butter (I used 50g of the Chantilly leftover)
10g Rum (I omitted)

Chocolate topping
75g chocolate, roughly chopped with a knife

Method

  1. Non Thermomix
    1. Make the meringue the day before: preheat the oven at 100C.
    2. Whisk the egg whites at low speed until foamy.
    3. Add the caster sugar and continue whisking while increasing the speed to medium until it form soft peaks.
    4. Add the icing sugar and increase the speed to high until all the sugar is combined and the meringues are firm.
    5. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment and fill a piping bag with a round nozzle with the meringue mixture.
    6. Pipe little domes a few centimeters apart and bake 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven (don’t open the door) until completely cooled down or overnight.MontBlanc_003
    7. Make the chantilly: whisk the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla beans until firm. Watch out not to over-whisk or you will get butter!MontBlanc_002
    8. Using a spatula, apply some chantilly on each meringue to cover the top.MontBlanc_001
    9. Make the chestnut topping by mixing all the ingredients with the flat beater/K whisk a few minutes at medium to high speed (or use the whisk if you don’t have a flat beater).
    10. Fill a piping  bag with a small round or star shaped nozzle and pipe over the little meringues.
    11. To make the Merveilleux, sprinkle the chocolate flakes over the meringues instead of the chestnut topping.
    12. Refrigerate until serving.
  2. Thermomix
    1. Meringues: make sure you have a squeekly clean TM bowl, blades and whisk. Insert the butterfly whisk. Whisk the egg whites 1 min/speed 3.5/measuring cup OFF. Add the caster sugar
    2. Whisk for another 2 minutes/speed 3.5/measuring cup OFF. Add the icing sugar and whisk 2 minutes/speed 3.5/measuring cup OFF.
    3. Pipe with a round nozzle onto baking tray lined with baking parchment, a few centimeters apart. Bake as per the traditional method above.
    4. To make the chantilly, insert the butterfly whisk into the TM bowl and whisk all the ingredients 30 sec/speed 3 and watch through the hole in the lid. Stop when it looks like it’s reached soft peak. It will be firmer at the bottom.
    5. Use a spatula to cover the meringues with the chantilly to keep a dome shape.
    6. Make the chestnut topping by mixing all the ingredients 30 sec/speed 6.
    7. Pipe over the meringues using a small round or star shaped nozzle.
    8. To make the Merveilleux, sprinkle the chantilly  topped meringues with chocolate flakes instead of the chestnut topping.
    9. Refrigerate before serving.

 

 

Almond purée

I often find recipes that require almond purée as a healthier alternative to butter but unfortunately, it is not an ingredient easily available in Ireland. However, I have a powerful tool that can do almost everything so a little search on the web and I got the recipe to make this wonderful ingredient!

You can use almond purée in many recipes: replace tahini in your homemade hummus or aubergine dip, use to make mayonnaise (replaces the egg yolk and some of the oil), use in dips (guacamole, tapenade…),  in sauces as a replacement to butter (béchamel, rémoulade…). Add into your risottos, purées and soups. In desserts, use in cakes, creams and pastry. To know how much almond purée is equivalent to the butter in a recipe, follow the ratios below:

Cold butter -> use 100% weight almond purée

Softened butter -> use 80% of the butter weight in almond purée and 20% oil

Melted butter -> use 50% weight almond purée and 50% oil or vegetal milk

(source: Cléa)

AlmondPuree_007

Source: Pause cuisine

Ingredients

300g blanched almonds (you can also use almonds with the skin on but the colour will be brown and the taste more rustic)

Method

  1. Place the almonds (or ground almonds) in the TM bowl and mix 1 min/speed 5, then 30 sec/speed 6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix another 30sec/speed 6.AlmondPuree_001
  2. Pause for 5 minutes to let it cool down, scrape down the sides and mix 30 sec/speed 7. Leave to rest 15 minutes.AlmondPuree_002
  3. Scrape down the sides and mix 1 min/speed 6. Leave to rest 30 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix another 1 min 30/speed 5. The texture of the almond paste is turning oily. Leave to rest 10 minutes.AlmondPuree_003
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix 30 sec/speed 5. Scrape down the sides and mix 30 sec /speed 5 again. Leave to rest 5 minutes.AlmondPuree_004
  6. Mix 1 min/speed 6. Now the almond purée est ready to use. Tip it onto a sterilised jar (to sterilise, place 10 minutes in an oven at 150C).AlmondPuree_005
  7. Don’t wash the bowl! Add 300 g of water in it and mix 20 sec/speed 6, then 20 sec/speed 10 and voilá! Almond milk ready to use (as suggested in the recipe, I made some clafoutis with the almond milk and the purée to replace the butter).AlmondPuree_008AlmondPuree_009
  8. Keep at room temperature for up to a week or in the fridge for a month.

AlmondPuree_006

White chocolate, Vanilla and olive oil macarons

I love making macarons. They are beautiful, tasty and you can fill them with an infinite variety of ganaches and fillings. Since teaching how to make them at my Kitchen Complements cookery classes, I have found a great fail-safe recipe, which I am giving you today. For ideas to fill these, you can choose from my raspberry and rose or my dark chocolate ganaches. Maybe you prefer the salted butter caramel filling or for a tangy taste, lemon curd would get your preference. If none of these tickle your fancy, then why not a beautiful white chocolate and olive oil emulsion infused with vanilla seeds?

Please refer to my previous post on macarons shells for some tips on how to make successful macarons before making the recipe.

VanillaMacarons_001

Source: Macarons inratables for the shells and A 2 mains Cap délice for the ganache

Ingredients

Macarons shells
Makes about 100 shells

160g ground almond
160g icing sugar
140g egg whites
180g caster sugar
Food colouring of your choice (preferably in powder or gel form to avoid changing the texture of the mixture)

Ganache
200g white chocolate
75g single cream
85g Extra virgin olive oil (choose a very good quality olive oil with a mild taste)
1/2 vanilla pod

VanillaMacarons_002

Method

  1. Line the baking trays with baking paper or silicone sheet (you need 4 baking trays)
  2. Take out all the ingredients (egg whites a few hours in advance) and tools needed: silicone spatula, piping bag + round nozzle, pastry scraper, scale and a big bowl.
  3. Mix together the ground almond and the icing sugar in the food processor (Thermomix: 5 sec/speed 6). Don’t overheat the powder though! Alternatively, sieve the mixture. Tip out and reserve in the big bowl.
  4. Beat the egg whites until they start to foam and there’s no more liquid at the bottom of the bowl, and then add 1/2 of the sugar. Continue whisking until the whites start to firm up and form soft peaks Add the other 1/2 of sugar. Continue whisking until the sugar is totally dissolved (taste a little bit to check) and add the food colouring (quantity is up to you but add a small amount at a time until you’re satisfied with the result).
    Stop whisking at this stage and add the ground almond and icing sugar.
  5. Now use a silicone spatula to fold in the almond mixture. Cut in the middle of the bowl with the spatula and turn the bowl a 1/4 to the left (if you’re left-handed, then to the right) while lifting the mixture. Once the almond/sugar is roughly mixed in, change the spatula motion to a fold and then scrape gently the top of the mixture. Continue doing this until all the almond is mixed in. Now you don’t have to be too delicate here as you want the mixture to be well mixed and it should form a ribbon when pouring it from a height.
  6. As soon as this is done, put the mixture in a piping bag with a round nozzle (about 1 cm wide). Evacuate any air out of the opening of the piping bag using your hand or pastry scraper and push the mixture towards the nozzle to remove air bubbles.
  7. Hold the piping bag firmly in your hand as shown in the picture and move to your ready lined baking tray
    With the nozzle about 1 cm away from the tray (at a 45 degree angle) pipe out a small amount of the macaron mixture (about a walnut size). You should have 25 to 30 shells per tray.
  8. Continue piping a line of macarons well spaced (they will spread out while resting). Tap the tray firmly against the workbench to remove any air bubble trapped.
  9. Let the macarons rest for up to 1 hour at room temperature. Check it is dry by slightly touching one macaron: it shouldn’t stick to the finger.
  10. Preheat your oven at 150C (even less if your oven tends to overheat).
  11. Add the tray with the macarons and cook for about 10 minutes (again, check them through the window to make sure they don’t get yellow). You don’t need to use 2 tray in this recipe as it is fail-safe and the feet will form with just one tray.
  12. To see if they are cooked, slightly move the top with your finger. If it moves away from the feet, it’s not done. If both stay together, they are cooked.
  13. When they’re cooked, leave them out for a few minutes before carefully lifting them out with a thin spatula.
  14. Ganache: heat the olive oil with the seeds of the vanilla pod 5 min/70C/speed 2. Leave to cool completely (you can leave the pod in the oil and remove when cool). Tip out and reserve.
  15. Melt the white chocolate and the cream in the TM bowl 5 min/50C/speed 2.
  16. Add the olive oil and mix 1 min/speed 3.
  17. Place in a piping bag and leave to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes before piping into your macarons shells.
  18. Store the macarons in an air-tight container in the fridge for at least 1 day before eating (I know it’s torture but they are much, much better after a day or 2 as the flavours will have developed!). They also freeze very well…
  19. Tip: to make the golden shimmer look on the shells, I have sprayed them with an edible shimmer bronze spray (I used gold shimmer for the paler ones), available in specialised shops. Place them in a cardboard box before spraying to avoid redecorating your kitchen!

VanillaMacarons_003

Asian rice and prawn salad

This is a quick and super tasty dish to make with Thermomix (which comes in handy to prepare all the components of this dish). I got the idea for the salad from Mamina in her blog “La table de Mina” and the dressing is the secret dressing recipe from Wagamama, a chain of Asian restaurants in the UK and Ireland (curtesy of C’est ma fournée for the recipe). When I say secret, it’s not anymore since Wagamama revealed the recipe in their latest cookbook after being so jealously guarded for so long (it’s THE dressing that gets the customers coming back for more!).

AsianRiceSalad_001

AsianRiceSalad_003

Source: La table de Mina and C’est ma fournée

Ingredients

Rice Salad
Serves 4 people
200g Basmati rice
500g jumbo prawns (I used fresh but if frozen, thaw them first)
1 mango
1 courgette
1 handful of fresh coriander
1 small red chilli
2 garlic cloves

Dressing
1/2 shallot
2.5 cm fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove
1 tbsp Ketchup
1 tbsp water
90g sunflower oil
10g sesame oil
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar

Method

  1. Place the rice in the internal basket with 1 L water in the bowl. Place the basket in the TM bowl and rinse the rice 5 sec/speed 5.
  2. Cook 10 min/Varoma/speed 1.
  3. Wash the courgette and cut it into ribbons lengthways using a Y peeler or a mandoline. Place on the Varoma tray.
  4. When the 10 minutes are up, remove the measuring cup and place the Varoma on the lid. Cook for a further 10 min/Varoma/speed 1.
  5. Meanwhile, peel and cut the mango and peel the garlic and ginger. De-seed the chilli.
  6. When the rice is cooked, set it aside. Rinse the bowl in cold water and run the blades at speed 8 while dropping the garlic and ginger for the dressing. Scrape down the side of the bowl.
  7. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and blend 15 sec/speed 6.
  8. Pour into a small bottle (you’ll have enough dressing for a few dishes). Keep the leftover in the fridge for up to a week.
  9. Rinse the bowl and drop the chilli,  the remaining garlic and ginger for the salad on speed 8.
  10. Add some oil and cook 3 min/100C/speed 1.
  11. Add the defrosted prawns and cook 3 min/100C/speed 1. Test to check the prawns are cooked or add 1 minute if not.
  12. Place the rice into a serving bowl. Tip out the prawns and mix in. Add the pieces of mango, the chopped coriander and pour over the dressing. Enjoy!

AsianRiceSalad_002

 

 

 

Chocolate chestnut fondant

You should know by now that I love chocolate. Another thing that is sure to tickle my taste buds is chestnut. Add them together and you have a winner.

ChestnutChocCake_002

Source: inspired by a recipe from Martine bichonne son menu  and Recette de cuisine

Ingredients

Homemade chestnut purée
500g cooked chestnuts
1 vanilla pod
300g sugar
300g water

Fondant
500g chestnut purée
100g dark chocolate
3 eggs
100g unsalted butter

ChestnutChocCake_001

Method

  1. First make the chestnut purée: heat the water and sugar in the TM bowl 9 min/Varoma/speed 3.
  2. Add the chestnuts, the vanilla seeds and heat 22 min/100C/speed 3.
  3. Blend 30 sec/speed 9.
  4. Pour into a sterilised jar.
  5. To make the fondant: preheat the oven at 150C. Melt the chocolate and butter 4 min/50C/speed 2, scraping the sides of the bowl half way through.
  6. Set the Thermomix to speed 3 and add the eggs through the hole in the lid.
  7. Add the chestnut purée and mix 15 sec/speed 4.
  8. Pour out into a buttered and floured cake tin or silicone mould.
  9. Bake for 30 to 45 min depending on the size of the tin.

 

Semolina cake

Most French children have a memory of semolina cake, either made by their mum or bough from the shop. I have this fond memory of a semolina cake with chocolate ganache from the brand Yabon that I just couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, nowadays we can’t find decent semolina cakes in France anymore as they have “changed” the recipe (replacing natural ingredients with cheap processed ones to increase their bottom line as usual). But anyway, nothing beats homemade so here is a nice recipe to turn back the time…

SemolinaCake_001

Source: Espace Recettes Thermomix

Ingredients

125 g fine semolina
90g sugar
1000g whole fat milk
1/2 vanilla pod
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

Chocolate ganache:
90g dark chocolate
90g cream

Method

  1. Put the butterfly whisk in the bowl.
  2. Add the milk, sugar, semolina, seeds scraped from the vanilla pod and salt.
  3. Cook for 11 min/100c/speed 1.
  4. Add the eggs and cook a further 4 min/100C/speed 3.
  5. Pour out into a dish and let it cool down before refrigerating a couple of hours to set.
  6. Meanwhile, make the ganache: in a clean and dry TM bowl, break the chocolate into chunks and grate 5 sec/speed 6.
  7. Add the cream and melt for 3 min/50C/speed 2, scraping down the sides half way through.
  8. Let it cool and thicken before pouring over the semolina cake.

Chocolate financiers

I had a lot of egg whites in my fridge and some chocolate craving after seeing my daughter gorging herself on her Easter chocolates and not wanting to share (how shocking!). So, I looked for a chocolate financiers recipe and just came across this one. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into: they are wickedly addictive! They are so moist and chocolatey with just the right balance of sweetness. I must have eaten the whole batch within a day (my husband just about managed to rescue one before they were all gone).

ChocFinanciers_001

Source: Gateau.com

Ingredients

150g dark chocolate (I used 58% cocoa)
80g sugar
80g unsalted butter
40g plain flour
40g ground almond
4 egg whites (or 125g)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200C and butter your financier moulds (I used silicone so no need to butter)
  2. Grate the chocolate in the TM bowl 5 sec/speed 6. Scrape down the sides.
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate 3 min/50C/speed 2. Scrape down half way through. Add another minute if not completely melted.
  4. Pour out the chocolate into a bowl and add all the other ingredients except the egg whites to the TM bowl (no need to wash).
  5. Turn on the blades to speed 3 and add the egg whites through the whole in the lid until just combined.
  6. Add the chocolate back into the TM bowl and mix 10 sec/speed 4. Finish with the spatula to make sure everything is well combined ( you don’t want to overmix).
  7. Pour into your financier moulds and bake for 15 minutes (check with a skewer that must come out clean).
  8. Leave to cool and use your will power not to have second servings – don’t say I didn’t warn you!

ChocFinanciers_002

Feta Filo cakes

The weather is getting summery again so it’s time for some light salads and Mediterranean dishes. This Greek inspired dish is using filo pastry as a case for the Feta filling. It’s easy to make and delicious with a green salad.

FetaFiloCakes_001 FetaFiloCakes_002

Source: Cuisine A á Z

Ingredients

Filo pastry
150g Feta cheese
150g Philadelphia
3 eggs
30g butter
25g pine nuts
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200C
  2. Place the eggs, Feta, Philadelphia or cream cheese, olive oil and salt and pepper in the TM bowl. Mix 15 sec/speed 6.
  3. Add the pine nuts and mix 5 sec/speed 3.
  4. Melt the butter (in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove).
  5. Butter a muffin tray(I used a silicone muffins sheet)
  6. Take out a sheet of filo pastry and brush it with some melted butter. Cut out bands of filo the width of 1 muffin case.
  7. Line each muffin with the bands of filo, changing the angle with each band to fill the whole muffin case.
  8. Do the same with the remaining filo pastry and muffin cases.
  9. Pour the content of the TM bowl in each muffin until filled almost to the top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  11. Serve hot or warm with a salad and extra Feta.

 

Simnel cake

This recipe is on our Thermomix calendar, given to customers who hosted a demonstration in January and February. It looked so amazing that I couldn’t resist making it. It’s a traditional cake in United Kingdom and Ireland dating from the Victorian era. It should have 11 little eggs on top that represent the 11 disciples of Christ at Easter (I didn’t judge too well, so only managed to fit 10 eggs).

SimnelCake_001 SimnelCake_003

Source: Beverley Dunkley for I love chocolate, I love Thermomix

Ingredients

150g chopped candied fruit
150g currant
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp real vanilla extract
30g Brandy
200g dark chocolate in small pieces or callets
50g unsalted butter, diced
3 large eggs
100g caster sugar
110g plain flour
15g cocoa powder

Marzipan
110g blanched almonds (I used ground)
120g granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp orange flower water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Chocolate ganache
150g double cream
11 small eggs

Method

  1. Make the Marzipan: weigh 50g sugar into the TM bowl and grind to caster sugar 5 sec/speed 10. Tip out and set aside.
  2. Weigh the remaining 70g sugar into the TM bowl, grind to icing sugar 1 min/speed 10. Set aside in a flat bowl or on a plate.
  3. Weigh the blanched almonds (they must be dry) into the TM bowl and grind until fine 10 sec/speed 10 (no need if using ground almonds).
  4. Add the caster sugar and most of the icing sugar (save 1 tbsp for step 6). Mix 10 sec/speed 3.
  5. Add the egg yolk and flavourings. Knead 1 min/dough setting until a rough paste is formed. If it looks crumbly, press it together with your fingers, it should make a dough.
  6. Taste and add more almond extract if needed (knead 30 sec/dough setting if that’s the case). Turn out the TM bowl and use the remaining icing sugar to roll out the Marzipan.
  7. Make the cake: preheat the oven at 180C and line a 18cm round deep cake tin with baking parchment. Place a bowl on top of the TM lid and weigh in the fruits, then add the lemon zest, vanilla and Brandy. Stir then leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  8. Melt 50g chocolate with the butter 2 min/50C/speed 3, pausing half way through to scrape down the sides. It should be fully melted and smooth. Heat 1 minute longer if needed.
  9. Mix in the eggs, sugar, flour and cocoa powder 30 sec/speed 5 then stir into the soaked fruits with the spatula. Pour half the batter into the prepared tin.
  10. Roll the Marzipan into a disc about 18cm diameter x 1cm thick. Place on top of the cake batter. Cover completely with the remaining batter. Bake 50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  11. Ganache: melt the remaining 150g chocolate with the double cream in a clean TM bowl 2 min/50C/speed 2 until 3/4 of the chocolate is melted, pausing to scrape down the TM bowl once.
  12. Scrape down the sides of the TM bowl and mix without heat until completely melted and smooth. Spread half the glaze on top of the cake with a palette knife, allowing it to drizzle down the sides slightly.
  13. Cool the rest of the glaze in a bowl until almost fully set, then aerate by hand with a balloon whisk until thick enough to pipe. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe 11 rosettes around the top of the cake and place a small Easter egg on each.

SimnelCake_004 SimnelCake_002