DIY Gift: Festive mini-meringues

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It’s that time of year again… The time when we’re all trying to find original gifts before Christmas. Instead of giving someone yet another box of chocolates, making your own gift is going to be cheaper and also so much more appreciated.

These meringues make a great little treat bag, use a fancy label and some twine or raffia to tie them with and they’ll really look the part.

For approximately 40 mini meringues

– 70g of egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
– 70g of caster or granulated sugar
– 70g of icing sugar
– flavours to your choice (peppermint extract, chocolate, spices, citrus, nuts…)
– food colouring (optional)

Preheat your oven at 100C.

Whisk the egg white and slowly add your regular sugar.
Whisk until firm and until all the sugar has desolved.

Sieve the icing sugar and add it to the egg white mixture. Gently fold until well combined.

Divide your mixture into as many parts as you want different flavours.

Try not to overload your mixture, a little flavouring goes a long way.
You can use freeze dried fruit powders and natural extract to give a strong flavour to your meringues.
You can add zest but make sure not to put too much in.

Do not add melted chocolate or watery ingredients (juices,…) to your mixture, it will not work out.

If you want to flavour them with chocolate, use a bit of cocoa powder or dip them in chocolate once baked.
You can add finely chopped nuts but not too much, it’s better to sprinkle them with nuts once they are piped.

Once you’ve decided which flavours you want add them to your mixture and fold in.

If you are using food colouring, one nice effect is to make a colourful line in your piping bag using gel paste colouring and a paintbrush and brush a line or two along the length of the piping bag.

Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping bag. You can use a nozzle but it’s optional.

Pipe the meringues on trays lined with baking paper. Pipe them however small or big you want them, they shouldn’t expand too much during baking so you can space them fairly tight.

Put the trays in the preheated oven. Meringues are very fussy with oven temperatures, if your oven is known for being hotter than it says, leave it a tiny bit open (use a wooden spoon in the door so the oven won’t shut properly). If the meringues start to crack, lower your oven temperature immediately. If you know your oven is too hot and that the meringues crack every time, don’t worry, they’ll still look gorgeous, they’ll just be a little bit more home made looking.

Leave the meringues to bake for 30-40 min or until you can pick one up and no traces of unbaked meringue are left on the tray. They should be crisp to the touch and handle a poke with a fingernail without cracking (I know, very scientific…). They’ll be lovely and soft inside. If you want them crisp all the way, they’ll need an extra 15 min of baking.

Leave them to cool down completely before devouring or wrapping!

Mylène

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Pain d’épices

For this first december post, I wanted to share something that sounds very christmassy.

To me, it doesn’t really feel like christmas is only in 3 weeks as we were thinking about christmas biscuits and products to make ages and ages ago. However, something that makes me think of christmas is gingerbread cake (pain d’epices in french, meaning spiced bread).

When I looked online for a british recipe, I found out they were all with golden syrup and most of them with black treacle. The french recipes use honey instead, as golden syrup and treacle are practically unknown in France.

I was quite excited to use golden syrup, I absolutely love the smell of it but I was really disappointed… I didn’t find that wintery taste I was looking for, I could hardly taste the spices and the treacle was overpowering, even if I didn’t put much at all.

So what was I going to do???? Well, like most girls when they don’t know what to do, I phoned mummy!

As I already knew to use honey instead of golden syrup, I only wanted to know what blend of spices she uses. In french supermarkets, you can buy a gingerbread mix, the spices are already put all together so it’s really easy to use.

I’m a great believer of using fresh, unground spices, you get much more flavour, so I had to buy all these spices that I couldn’t find anywhere for weeks but I finally did (except one).

I was very happy with my final french gingerbread, just how I like it!

pain d'epices

For 1 gingerbread, you’ll need:

– 1 desertspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon, staranise, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, clove)
– 250g of honey
– 50g of sugar
– 10cl of milk
– 100g of butter
– 200g of flour
– 1 egg
– 40g of ground almonds
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of baking soda
– the zest of an orange

Heat up the milk and honey together in a pan.

When it comes to the boil, take it off of the hob and add the butter.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, flour, egg, ground almonds, baking powder, soda, orange zest and spices.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin (or little individual ones) and bake for about 45min to an hour, until completely cooked in the middle.

Leave to cool down and eat!

Mylène

Chocolate tiffin

For my second chocolate recipe, I chose to make tiffins.

I love chocolate on its own, it’s such a good feeling to bite into a bar of chocolate but things made with chocolate, especially cakes, make me feel a bit sick.

Like all my dad’s family, I have a very slight allergy to cocoa, I sneeze when I eat something very strong in cocoa.

It’s not too bad as I don’t really enjoy the bitterness of a very dark bar of chocolate but you get that bitterness too often in chocolate cakes, mousses, ice cream…

I suppose it’s why I don’t really like them.

So these tiffins…
I made them with very good quality milk chocolate as I didn’t want them to be too high in cocoa content.

For 20 tiffins, you’ll need:

– 400g of biscuits of your choice, crushed (I used ginger biscuits, but I don’t think they worked as well as digestives or shortbreads would have)
– 200g of butter
– 140g of golden syrup
– 150g of mixed roasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts are good)
– 30g of cocoa
– 70g of raisins
– 300g of milk chocolate

Mix the crushed biscuits, nuts, cocoa and raisins together.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together, pour it on the biscuit mixture and mix.

Lay a tin with baking paper and pour the mixture in.
Press it until you have a levelled base for your tiffins.

Chill for at least 1 hour.

Melt your chocolate, pour it on the biscuit base, then wait for the chocolate to set a little bit (20min) and run a knife on it to create paterns.

Enjoy

Mylene

Busy, busy, busy!!!

These last weeks have been absolutely full of work. Well, it’s normal because it’s nearly Christmas!! So I didn’t have much time to think about writing on the blog!

So mince pies, ginger biscuits and various Christmas goodies haven’t got any secrets for me anymore!!!!

So after this ultra busy time, a little holiday will be heaven, especially if it’s in Brittany!! I go to France for a few days to celebrate Christmas with my family. I’m really looking forward to see everybody and cook for them.

Like I’m in a frenchy mood and that it’s sooooo freezing outside, I’ll share a recipe that my mum used to make all the time and it was amazing everytime. It’s rice pudding but cooked on the hob and not in the oven.

Riz au lait

You’ll need

–          100g of rice

–          1L of milk

–          5 tablespoons of sugar

–          1 vanilla pod

First, like the rice doesn’t cook brilliantly in sweet milk, cook it for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape it with a knife to remove the vanilla beans, put it in the milk. Remove it from the water and pour it into a pan with the milk and vanilla. Cook it until the rice is cooked, the milk should have reduced. Remove it from the hob, add the sugar and mix the whole mixture. Leave it for 15 minutes to cool down and enjoy!!

Merry Christmas!!                       

Mylène