Category Archives: Sweet bites

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 ūüėČ ).

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.

 

 

Pancake cake

It was the Chandeleur not that long ago but I wanted to make something a bit different than just plain individual pancakes. I had seen a recipe for pancake cake on my friend Carine’s blog Chic Chic Choc…olat, which gave me all the inspiration I needed to make a truly beautiful dessert!

PancakeCake_001

Source: adapted from Chic chic choc…olat recipe

Ingredients

Pancake batter

Filling:

100g Hazelnut paste
100g dark chocolate

Ganache topping:

10g unsalted butter
50g milk
15g cocoa powder
150g icing sugar

Method

  1. Make the pancake batter as per the recipe to which you can add 1 tbsp rhum, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tbsp sugar.
  2. Leave to rest at least 30 minutes before using.
  3. Make the pancakes (I got about 10) and leave them to cool on a plate.
  4. Make the hazelnut paste and take out 100g. Keep the rest in a jar and use it to make lovely nutella!
  5. Melt 100g dark chocolate in the Thermomix by first chopping it 6 sec/speed 6, then melting 3 min/50C/speed 2.
  6. Add the 100g hazelnut paste and mix 20 sec/speed 3. You now have Gianduja.
  7. Take one pancake and place on a serving plate.
  8. Spread with some of the hazelnut and chocolate mixture, then place another pancake on top and so on until there is no more pancake.
  9. Clean the TM bowl and place butter and milk into it. Cook 2 min/80 C/speed 2.
  10. Add sugar and cocoa and blend for 25 sec/speed 4.
  11. Pour over the pancake cake and leave to set in the fridge for 2 hours before serving.

Pain perdu au four (Bread and butter pudding)

I sometimes get asked what to do with stale bread. The obvious use (apart from breadcrumbs) is to turn it into a delicious sweet bite. In France, we do pain perdu, which is bread soaked in an egg and sugar mixture and then pan fried in butter until caramelised and set. This version is closer to the bread and butter pudding because we bake the bread soaked in milk, egg and sugar. You can add anything you want to the mixture: spices, raisins, red fruits or chocolate chips like I did. No matter what you have on hand, this is a very quick and tasty dish.

PainPerduColl

Source: Amuse bouche

Ingredients

400g milk
2 eggs
A pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
About 10 slices of stale bread (or brioche)
80g soft brown sugar
Topping of your choice (choc chips, raisins, berries, cinnamon, nutmeg…)
A few knobs of butter

Method

  1. Cut the bread into thin slices and place in a baking dish
  2. Mix the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar and pour over the bread.
  3. Leave to soak for 30 minutes, turning halfway.
  4. Add the topping, dot with the knobs of butter and bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until golden.
  5. Serve with Maple syrup or on its own. It’s great for breakfast too!

 

Absolutely delicious raw chocolate brownie!

Last year we had a Thermomix conference for the Irish demonstrators in the beautiful village of Kinsale (in the south of Ireland) and one of the participants, Liz, presented us a gorgeous recipe of raw chocolate brownie that has the added bonus of being absolutely healthy! Her recipe is so simple and tastes so amazing that I have done it time and time again ever since. She kindly gave me the permission to share it with you today and I must beg you to try this little gem of a treat because it will send you for more! There is very little cooking involved (just enough to melt the chocolate) so with the right chocolate, this could be suitable to raw foodies as well. When I told you this was a gem, I wasn’t kidding! You can check Liz’s website: www.mygoodness.ie.

For this recipe, I have used Nu3 Goji berries, which I was kindly sent to use in a recipe. They are guaranteed to be sulphur-free, GMO-free with no additives or preservatives, thus contributing to the high health benefit of this recipe (see below for its vitamins/nutrients content).

RawChocBrownie_005 RawChocBrownie_006

Source: Liz Nolan

Ingredients

RawChocBrownie_001

75g sesame seeds
150g ground almonds (or whole almonds)
150g dark chocolate 70%
30g coconut oil
30g coconut palm sugar (or honey or rapadura sugar)
50g dessicated coconut plus extra for sprinkling (I didn’t use any)
2 tbsp Goji berries
2 tbsp cacao nibs (I omitted)
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: 

  1. Grind sesame seeds with the zest and salt for 20 secs/speed 8 (if using whole almonds, grind them at this stage also). Tip into a bowl and set aside.RawChocBrownie_002
  2. Break up the chocolate and add to the TM bowl and grind for 6 sec/speed 6.
  3. Then add the coconut oil, sugar and vanilla extract and melt 3 min/50C/speed 2.
  4. Add in the ground almonds, dessicated coconut, sesame mixture and combine 20 sec/speed 4.RawChocBrownie_003
  5. Add cacao nibs and Goji berries 10 secs/speed 2.
  6. Spread out onto a small baking tray approx 30cm x 20cm and press down firmly with a spatula and level.
  7. Sprinkle with Sesame seeds and Goji berries and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.RawChocBrownie_004
  8. Cut into squares and serve. Keep in a plastic lidded box in the fridge or freeze. Keeps for at least a couple of weeks if it lasts that long!

Nutritional Info: 
These brownies apart from being delicious are very good for you.
The dark chocolate and cacao nibs are very high in antioxidants and magnesium which helps to relax muscles and can lower blood pressure.
The goji berries and orange zest are high in antioxidants which hep the immune system to stay healthy. Goji berries are rich in vit B, B12, iron & carotenoids.
Coconut oil is anti viral, anti bacterial and anti microbial and apart from using in cooking curries and soups (it has a high burning point so can be heated to a high temperature) it makes a great dairy free alternative to butter in baking.
Himalayan salt contains a huge amount of minerals it is like taking a mineral supplement! 
Sesame seeds
 are very high in calcium and soluble fibre and good omega oils and lastly 
Almonds 
also contain great amounts of calcium and provide excellent protein and soluble fibre.

Fondant Apples with Chantilly cream

I love reading my friend Carine’s blog: Chic Chic Choc…olat. She always does mouth watering dishes and her photos are so beautiful. I fell in love with her Gateau aux pommes caram√©lis√©es, which I translated to Fondant apples because it’s not really a cake (the only ingredients there are apples, sugar and butter!) and the apples are just melting in your mouth after being slowly stewed in a low oven. It’s just a superb dish, albeit very slow to make, but I was always taught that the best things take time… It’s not either a Thermomix recipe. All you need for this dish is a mandoline (or a lot of patience) to slice the apples waffer thin. Even the amount of butter and sugar is ridiculously low, so if you omit the creme Chantilly, it’s quite a healthy dessert…FondantPommes_002

Source: Chic chic choc…olat

Ingredients

12 apples (I used 6 Pink ladies and 6 Golden delicious)
70g soft brown sugar
30g unsalted butter

Method

  1. Melt the butter and peel and core the apples.
  2. Slice the apples thinly with a mandoline and spread a thin layer in a small dish (20cm diameter), sprinkle with some of the sugar and a couple of teaspoons of the melted butter.
  3. Continue layering the apples with a sprinkle of sugar and butter on each layer.
  4. Place a piece of baking parchment paper on top and weigh down with a heavy dish slightly smaller (I used a Pyrex dish).
  5. Bake at 110C for 10 hours (you will need a patience of gold for this dish!).
  6. Leave to cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before unmoulding carefully.
  7. Reheat briefly in a microwave (no more than 20 seconds) to soften the butter and serve with a dollop of creme Chantilly (made in the Thermomix of course!)

FondantPommes_003FondantPommes_001

Delicious chocolate alternative

Sometimes, I feel like eating healthy but I never want to compromise on taste. I don’t particularly find munching on nuts and seeds very exciting or satisfying but I don’t want to rush to the chocolate bar either. So, I have been looking for a nice healthy snack that I could make easily without ever finding what I was looking for. That is until I flicked through the Taste of Vegetarian cookbook and found this gem of a recipe! The title got my attention: chocolate alternative, well I love chocolate so that’s a good start. Then I read through the list of ingredients and luckily enough, I had everything in my cupboards. So I made the first batch and waited patiently a few hours for it to set and had a taste. Love at first bite! The chewiness of the date, the slight crunch of the nuts and the wonderful taste of coconut and cocoa is a winner. I have made 2 batches already and I think it will be a regular feature at my house…

ChocAlternative_001_01

Source: Taste of vegetarian, Thermomix cookbook available in the UK and Ireland

Ingredients

130g almonds
75g cashews
50g pitted dries dates
65g desiccated coconut (I don’t put it)
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
20g honey
70-80g 100% coconut oil (I put 50g and it’s plenty)

ChocAlternative_002_01

Method

  1. Line a square biscuit tin with cling film.
  2. Place nuts into TM bowl and grind for 8 sec/speed 7. Set aside.ChocAlternative_001
  3. Add dates, desiccated coconut, cocoa, salt and honey into bowl and chop 30 sec/speed 7.ChocAlternative_002
  4. Return the nut meal to the bowl, adding the coconut oil and mix 20 sec/speed 5 or until the mixture has a shiny appearance. If the coconut oil is hard due to cold weather, mix first 4 sec/speed 6 and then continue on speed 5.ChocAlternative_003
  5. Empty mixture into the prepared tin (you might need to remove the blades to help you get most of it) and press down with the back of a spoon to create a flat surface.
  6. Using a spatula, score lines one way and then the other to create squares. Refrigerate and when solid, remove from the tin and break into squares. Store in the fridge.

Cupcake Bouquet

Last Sunday was my daughter’s birthday. I had recently seen a beautiful arrangement of cupcakes in the blog Amuses bouche and it looked so pretty! The cupcakes were iced with a rose pattern and assembled in a bouquet and I knew that this would look irresistible to a bunch of 7 years old girls! Her buttercream is also quite unusual: using half butter and half custard, making it less sickening while keeping its shape beautifully. I used floral flavourings for the buttercream, keeping with the bouquet theme but you could use any flavouring you like…

CupcakeRoses_003

Source: Amuses Bouche

Ingredients
For 12 to 15 cupcakes

200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 beaten eggs
200g self raising flour, sieved

For the buttercream:
150g custard
150g softened unsalted butter
4 tbsp icing sugar
2 drops rosewater and 2 drops of violet essence (or any flavouring you want)
Food colouring of your choice (prefer gel or liquid colouring to powder)

Tip: if doing lemon cupcakes, replace the custard with lemon curd and omit the colour and flavouring…

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C
  2. To make the cupcakes (Thermomix):
    1. place the butter and sugar in the TM bowl with the butterfly whisk. Cream together 2 min/speed 3.
    2. With the blades running at speed 3, slowly add the beaten eggs through the hole in the lid.
    3. Remove the whisk and add the sieved flour. Mix 20 sec/speed 3 or until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  3. Non Thermomix:
    1. Whisk butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
    2. Slowly add the beaten eggs.
    3. On low speed, add the self raising flour.
  4. Place in cupcake cases no more than 4cm diameter (don’t use too big cases as it wouldn’t stay on the stick because it’s too heavy, see picture).CupcakeRoses_002
  5. Smooth the top of each cupcake so that it rises evenly.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 min. Leave to cool on a rack completely.
  7. Take wooden skewers and place some sellotape around the non pointy end, about 1 inch/2cm away from the edge (see picture). This will stop the cupcake from sliding down the skewer later on.CupcakeRoses_001
  8. Pierce each cupcake bottom with a toothpick at the center. Place the cupcakes in the fridge to harden for 1 hour minimum.
  9. Meanwhile, make the buttercream:
    1. Thermomix: place the butterfly whisk in the bowl with the butter and cream for 1min30/speed 3 until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides with the spatula half way through.
    2. Add the custard and beat together 1 min/speed 3 until well combined.
    3. Add the icing sugar and beat another 10 sec/speed 3.
  10. Non Thermomix:
    1. Whisk the butter until pale and fluffy.
    2. Add the custard and beat again until well combines
    3. Add the icing sugar and whisk for a few seconds.
  11. Divide the buttercream in 2 (if you want to make 2 colour roses).
  12. Add colouring and flavouring to match and mix well.
  13. Place in piping bag with a 2D nozzle (see picture). This is important as a different shape nozzle will not render the rose petals. Note that other nozzle brands might not call this shape 2D so go by the shape of the nozzle.CupcakeRoses_003
  14. Take the cupcakes out of the fridge and pipe them starting from the center and going in circle outward. You don’t need to go until the edge of the cupcake as it will be easier later on when arranging in bouquet. Sprinkle with edible decorations.
  15. Place in the fridge to harden the buttercream.
  16. To assemble: stick the non pointy end of a skewer into the bottom of a cupcake, the sellotape will stop the cupcake from sliding.
  17. Fill a vase with ceramic beans or dried beans and stick each skewer into the beans. This will keep them from sliding into the vase.

CupcakeRoses_001

 

Barquettes (soft sponge biscuits with a jam centre)

A stapple of French kids 4 o’clock break (quatre heures), barquettes are yummy spongy biscuits shaped like little boats¬†with¬†some jam in the middle (a small boat in French is called a barque, hence the name of barquette). Most kids will lick the jam first and might then proceed with eating the sponge… or not. But one thing is sure, they LOVE it! So, now that I have a child of my own but can’t buy them in the shop, my only option is to make them myself and it’s actually very easy and much better than the industrial version…

Photo curtesy of www.coursesenfrance.com

Source: Flexipaninie

Ingredients

4 eggs
100g sugar
100g flour
Jam or any other filling you might fancy such as homemade Nutella

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C.
  2. Separate the yolk from the whites and put the whites in the TM bowl. Place the butterfly whisk securely on the blades and whisk 3 min/speed 3.5, measuring cup OFF. When the whites have started to foam, add the sugar a little at a time.
  3. Program 20sec/speed 2 and pour the egg yolks through the hole in the lid while the blades are running.
  4. Programm 20sec/speed 2 and pour the flour through the hole.
  5. Remove the butterfly whisk and use the spatula to combine the bits of flour that have not been mixed in.
  6. Pour into silicone moulds of any shape you like (for easy unmoulding) or a small scone or muffin tray, well greased and floured will do the trick.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes (check for colouring) depending on the size. For my small heart shape, 8 minutes were enough.
  8. While still warm out of the oven, use a clean wine cork to press down the center to create a cavity so you can fill with jam later.
  9. Then, take them out of the mould and leave to cool on a grid.
  10. Fill them to your heart’s content and enjoy! They will keep well in a tightly closed box and are even better the next day…

 

Madeleines en coque au chocolat (chocolate coated madeleines)

Madeleines are delicious little spongy cakes with a distinctive shell shape. They are often flavoured with lemon zest but can be done using any flavour you like really, there are even savoury versions that can be served as canapés. I love their very light and soft texture and they are delicious with tea or coffee. This version is dipped in dark chocolate as I remember eating those as a child and they were my favourite!

Ingredients

For 27 madeleines

125g melted butter (salted or not)
3 eggs
130g caster sugar
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
Flavouring: zest of a lemon or 1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate for the casing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 180C
  2. Mix the sugar and eggs in the TM bowl 1 min/speed 4
  3. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, butter and flavouring and mix 15 sec/speed 6.
  4. If using non silicone madeleine pan, butter it first, then pour 1 tbsp of mixture into each madeleine case (or fill them to 3/4).
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 min
  6. Leave to cool and take out of the moulds.
  7. If you have silicone moulds, pour some melted chocolate in each one (about a 1 tsp), spread with the spoon so the chocolate coats the case evenly and place a madeleine on top. Leave to cool then lift the madeleines off their mould.
  8. If you don’t have a silicone pan, just dip each madeleine in the melted chocolate and let it cool upside down.
  9. Will keep in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

 

Happy Halloween!

Today I’m not giving a recipe but rather the steps to make fun cupcakes for Halloween. When I saw these witch cupcakes on the net a while ago, ¬†I knew I had to make them for my little one’s Halloween party. They made a great impression and are quite easy to make. Here’s how:

  1. Make your usual cupcake buns and wait until they are cool to put the icing on top (any icing would do or even sugar paste).
  2. Take ice cream cones (I cut out a little at the end so they are less tall) and brush some melted dark chocolate all over. Let the chocolate harden (that shouldn’t take too long).
  3. Meanwhile, spread more melted dark chocolate on a tray lined with silicone sheet or greaseproof paper. Spread it thinly enough but try leave about 2 mm thickness so they are easy to lift out.
  4. Wait until the chocolate is almost hard (about 5 minutes) and cut out circles with a pastry cutter. Lift them up carefully using a palette knife when fully hard and place on the cupcakes.
  5. Make some buttercream and add the colouring of your choice and pipe a little all around the edge of the “hat” so you can stick it to the chocolate circle.
  6. Pipe more buttercream at the bottom of the hat to make a nice pattern and voil√° !

I also made the famous cake pops using white chocolate coloured with a lime green gel food colouring.

All the chocolates were melted in my Thermomix of course. The usual timing is 5 minutes at 50C, then reheat at 37C when the chocolate starts to harden again…