Friday, 28 February 2014

Clementine Ice Cream

I had rather a lot of difficult-to-peel clementines rolling around in the fruit bowl, not getting any younger, so decided to use them up in an ice cream.   This is my easiest ice cream recipe, although it is best made in an ice cream maker.  If you don't have one, make it the one thing you buy this year!  They are not expensive, and the results are worth it.  You can also make delicious sorbets too....  To go with the ice cream, I made a batch of Viennese fingers.  As you can see, the ones photographed were those not quite straight enough to be chocolate dipped (as per my previous blog post).   They still tasted good!   Neither the ice cream nor the biscuits contained eggs.

Clementine Ice Cream

Clementine Ice Cream

6 clementines, grate the zest from three or four of them
½ lemon
8oz/200g caster sugar
1pint/450ml double cream
½ tsp salt

extra clementines or oranges to decorate

Squeeze the clementines and ½ lemon, then put the juice and grated zest into a large bowl, adding the sugar.   Then add the cream and the salt, which thickens the mixture.  Stir well before freezing in either an ice-cream maker or bowl.   This makes enough for 6, or four hungry people!

When serving, decorate with more clementines, or orange segments.  The way I was taught to cut oranges for decoration is to use a serrated knife and cut off all the pith and peel.  Then hold the orange upright in your left hand (if right handed!), and cut each segment out of it.  You are left with some pretty segments and a squishy remaining piece.  If you need the juice, you can then close your fist and squeeze the remainder.   Messy but useful!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Viennese Fingers dipped in chocolate

Ever on the hunt for delicious little biscuits with ice cream, I originally made these to go with some clementine ice cream, and, as time was short, served them without their chocolate ends.  Having kept some of the best looking ones back, I dipped them in chocolate and put them to set.   So far, so straightforward.... however, I was not counting on my oldest son who, whilst my back was turned, scoffed the lot!  He was entirely unrepentant, simply saying that they were irresistible.  So, here they are:  the second batch of irresistible biscuits!

Chocolate Viennese Fingers

Chocolate Viennese Fingers

4oz/110g butter, softened
1oz/25g icing sugar
4oz/110g plain flour
¼ tsp baking powder
vanilla essence

2oz/50g plain chocolate

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and cover two baking trays in non-stick parchment. 
You will also need a piping bag with a crown nozzle (where the cut out zig zags are straight, not curved over).

In a medium sized bowl, use a hand held mixer to beat the butter until soft, then beat in the icing sugar until pale and fluffy.   Add the flour and baking powder, plus a few drops of vanilla, and beat well.   Put into the piping bag and pipe the mix in long fingers, about 3”, 7cm, allowing space between them as they spread on the baking tray. 

Bake until they are just browning.  Remove from the oven, and wait a little before putting them onto a wire rack as they are very fragile (or be organised and use a fish slice!).   When they are cooled, melt the chocolate and dip the ends.  This makes about 18-20 biscuits, depending on how fatly you pipe them.  

For the whole hog, you could make up some butter cream and sandwich the biscuits together.  Maybe next time! 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Chocolate Fudge Caramel Trifle

Every now and again you find something which is so gorgeous, you have to dive in and have seconds! This trifle is one such, as it is a feast of chocolate, cream and the most delicious fudge sauce.  My local fresh fudge shop, the Fudge Kitchen, has made the most divine sauce I have ever tasted!  A delicious concoction of fudge, chocolate and caramel, this gave a beautiful depth of flavour to my trifle.  I tested it at a choir supper, and it was a real hit!  You can buy the fudge on-line, as well as their sauces.... yum.... If you made the cake using gluten-free flour, the whole trifle is deliciously gluten-free!

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Trifle

Chocolate Caramel Fudge Trifle

or bought cake/brownies
Some kind of liqueur to give the cake a bit of a kick
a jar (approx 270ml) Fudge Kitchen Chocolate Caramel Fudge Sauce
Chocolate custard – recipe below
¾ pint/450ml double cream
fudge pieces and chocolate drops to decorate, plus more sauce

Chocolate Custard:
3 egg yolks
1 ½ oz/50g caster sugar
¾ pint/450ml double cream mixed with milk (the richer, the richer the result)
½ tsp cornflour
4oz/100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Mix the yolks, sugar, cornflour and vanilla, using a small whisk.   In a milk pan (preferably non-stick), warm the cream/milk to blood heat.  Pour this mixture onto the yolk mix, whisking gently until it is all incorporated.  Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and heat it.  Change over to a wooden spoon, and stir the custard lovingly until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  Add the broken-up chocolate and stir it in.   Leave until cold.

Assemble the trifle by putting crumbled cake into the base of a large glass bowl, then adding the alcohol, interspersed with very large dollops of the (warmed) fudge sauce.  Pour over the custard.   Whip the cream to soft peaks and put large blobs of cream onto the trifle – I prefer this to a thick layer – you get a better view of the custard below.  Decorate with fudge pieces and chocolate drops.  For a final flourish, warm the sauce in the microwave and then pour it over the top of the trifle in a generous fashion. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Madeleines by Michel Roux Jr

Proust famously had his madeleines, which brought back unbidden memories of times past.  For me, they are a sweet reminder of family holidays in France, when great bags of madeleines would find their way into the shopping, and then disappear very promptly in the car afterwards.  I've always wanted to make these, and my sister-in-law kindly gave me a 12 cup madeleine tin for Christmas with its special little scallops.    They are so easy to make!  If you don't have a special tin, just use a standard 12 cup bun tin (you will have to use it twice).   This is Michel Roux Jr's recipe (courtesy of BBC Food), so you know it's the real deal.   The recipe made 24 little madeleines, so you have to use the tin twice - make sure you clean it well, as otherwise you get burned bits of mixture on the next batch.


2 free range eggs
3oz/100g  caster sugar
3oz/100g  sieved plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
juice and zest of 1 lemon
3oz/100g  butter melted, then cooled slightly

extra butter and flour for the Madeleine tin
(icing sugar to dust)
1 12 cup Madeleine tin

Brush the scallops in the tray with melted butter, then shake some flour into each one and bang out the loose flour.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until they are frothy.  Lightly whisk in the rest of the ingredients.  Leave to stand for 20 minutes. 

Heat the oven to 200 deg C.   Pour the mixture into the tins (I found a good dessertspoon was more accurate).  Bake for 8 minutes or so until the mixture has risen in the middle and is cooked through.   Watch them, as they will cook faster on the underside owing to the butter, so they are quick to burn, especially at the small edges.

Tip out onto a wire rack and leave for a few minutes to cool (turn them over quickly as otherwise the rack will make an imprint).  I dusted mine with icing sugar.   Michel says they are best eaten within an hour of cooking, so go for it! 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Seville Orange and Almond Roulade

This is just the most delicious way of topping up your Vitamin C levels!   Seville oranges are with us for such a short season, you really should make the most of their fabulous bitter-sweetness.  I started with Claire Macdonald's recipe for Seville Orange Curd, and then made a tart jelly using the orange skins.   Wrapping the curd in an almond-encrusted roulade and drizzling it with the jelly was my shortcut to meringue heaven....  If you haven't got time to make the curd, use lemon or orange curd and add a dollop of warmed sieved marmalade for that sour-sweet hit!.

Seville Orange and Almond Roulade
 Almond Roulade

5 egg whites (not too fresh)
10oz/280g caster sugar
2oz/50g flaked almonds

To serve:
1 jar orange curd
½ pint/280ml double cream, softly whipped
small quantity Seville orange jelly or sieved marmalade

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C and line a swiss roll sized tin (12” x 14”.30 x 35cm approx) with parchment, cutting diagonally into the corners so the finished roulade has a better shape.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the sugar, a teaspoonful at a time.   Tip the mixture into the tin and smooth it out evenly using a flat bladed knife dipped in hot water.    Sprinkle on the flaked almonds as evenly as possible.    Bake for about 12 minutes or so – check, as it will brown quickly.   The meringue should be risen and pale golden.   Allow to cool in the tin. 

Turn out onto non-stick paper, carefully peeling off the parchment.  Spread with whipped cream, then the curd and roll up from the long side using the paper to help achieve the classic roll shape.   Drizzle with sieved marmalade or the orange jelly below.

Seville Orange Curd
Seville Orange Curd

Grated rind and juice of 2 Seville oranges
2 eggs, beaten
4oz/110g butter
4oz/110g sugar  

The best way to make this is in a double saucepan (one with a separate chamber below for the boiling water), but a heatproof bowl (Pyrex) on a pan of simmering water works just as well, if a little more slowly. 

Put all the ingredients in the bowl/saucepan, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.   Carry on heating it, stirring from time to time, until the mixture has thickened – it coats the back of the spoon, and then becomes more difficult to stir.  Strain through a sieve (important – it gets rid of any lumpy bits of egg) into small (clean) jars.   Cover the jars as per jam – with waxed discs and cellophane tops.  Alternatively, as you will be using this up quickly, cut circles of parchment to fit the jars, and then put the lids back on firmly.  

Seville Orange Jelly

Take the discarded orange peel and boil it hard just covered in water until the oranges are soft.  Squeeze out the oranges and add sugar to taste - 8oz/220g sugar to 1/2 pint/280ml liquid. Boil this again until almost jam setting point is reached.  This makes a bittersweet jelly which adds a little extra tang to the roulade.   (It will also go well on roast duck!)

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Valentine's Day Hearts

Little iced shortbread hearts make the perfect accompaniment to a creamy Valentine's Day pudding - perhaps the strawberry mousse, or a fruit fool.  They are very easy to make, and you get lots of practice with the icing!  (As you can see, my icing skills are nothing to write home about)    They appear to be browner than bought shortbread, which is because they are made with butter, not with some kind of artificial spread.

Iced Valentine's Hearts

Valentine's Day Hearts 

5oz/150g plain flour
3 level tbsps rice flour – if no rice flour, substitute plain flour
2oz/50g caster sugar
4oz/100g butter at just above room temperature

1-2oz/25-50g icing sugar
small quantity of water

Preheat oven to 170deg C/325 deg F.    Grease a large baking sheet.   Mix together the flours and the sugar.    Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients.   It will form a dryish dough, which you knead a little before rolling (this stretches the gluten and makes the biscuit stick together better).  

Roll out the dough between two pieces of greaseproof parchment, about .5cm thick.   Cut out the shapes and transfer using a fish slice to the baking sheet.   Bake until golden – the butter in the mixture will brown while your back is turned, so check it frequently after 15 minutes or so.       

This quantity of ingredients made a whole tray of hearts and rounds in different sizes.   

Make up the icing by putting three quarters of the sugar into a bowl, then adding first a little water and beating it together to get rid of the lumps, then enough water to make it soft enough for writing, yet not so soft it blurs (easier said than done, look at the picture!).   Add more icing sugar if necessary.   Use a piping bag with nozzle, or make one by snipping the corner off a plastic bag.   I found that simple designs worked better than words.  

Friday, 7 February 2014

Strawberry Mousse - Valentine's Day Special

One of my favourite Carry On films is Carry on up the Khyber featuring Joan Sims as Lady Ruff Diamond. In a fabulous scene, she and Sir Sidney are entertaining the vicar and other worthies to lunch.  As full-scale warfare escalates outside, the officers try to make their excuses to leave and take part. Throwing bits of ceiling out of her cleavage "I seem to be a little plastered", she tells them they can't go just yet, they haven't had their strawberry mousse....  Not a suitable sentiment for Valentine's Day, but strawberry mousse is definitely worth risking bombardment for.

Especially for Valentine's Day, a delicious pudding is a perfect way to show that music may be the food of love, but a good pudding goes straight to the heart!

Valentine's Day Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse
(this recipe makes enough for 6 people, so put the rest aside and eat it another time!)  I have used frozen strawberries as they give a deeper colour, and used fresh to decorate. 

1 ½ lbs/700g strawberries
2tbsp icing sugar
juice of 1 orange
3 large eggs, separated
4oz/110g caster sugar
(1tbsp)1 sachet of gelatine (or four leaves)
1 pint/450ml double cream softly whipped (or 2/3 double, 1/3 single)

If using frozen strawberries, allow to defrost.  Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, adding the icing sugar and orange juice.  At this point, you could sieve the juice to get rid of the pips, but it isn’t vital.

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, adding the caster sugar, and keep going until they are thick, pale and have increased in volume.  Soften the gelatine with 3tbsp water  in a saucepan and heat until the gelatine has dissolved (if you use leaf gelatine, soften the gelatine in water, squeeze out and add to the warm water).  Leave it until it has started to set (ie, coast the back of a metal spoon) and then stir it into the mousse before folding in the whipped cream.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the mousse using a metal spoon.   I always put a tablespoonful in first to loosen the texture of the mousse before adding the rest.  Pour into two heart-shaped bowls, and the rest into a serving bowl and chill until set.   

This can be made a day or two in advance, but is best eaten at room temperature.    Decorate with strawberries and cream.  I kept aside some of the purée to decorate these.  

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Choc-Porn (Popcorn Chocolate Fridge Cake)

Choc-Porn is the snappy title my TA gals came up with to describe this temptatious treat!  A take on chocolate biscuit cake, with popcorn in a starring role, it is moreish, chewy and absolutely divine, if VERY naughty!   Quick as a flash to make, it disappeared quickly in a flurry of sticky licked fingers and murmurs of happiness.... oh, if life could be always like this!    It's already gluten free, and I've done it dairy free too.  It works well, although using a spread instead of butter means it doesn't set quite as well as butter.


Choc-Porn - Popcorn Chocolate Fridge Cake

5oz/125g chocolate
5oz/125g butter
3oz/75g sweet popcorn (without the unpopped kernels)
1 tbsp golden syrup
2oz/50g raisins
2oz/50g glacé cherries
2oz/50g toasted flaked almonds

4oz/110g white chocolate, melted

Use a square tin approx 8” x 10", and line the base with parchment.  Melt the chocolate, syrup and butter in the microwave, stirring occasionally.   Add the other ingredients, stir well, and tip it all into the tin.  Level it up, drizzle generously with white chocolate and chill for approximately two hours.  Cut into bars/squares. 

Be warned:  This does not last long!