Mystère

It’s been a while since my last blog post, over a year, I know! Once again, it’s a “recreation” recipe.

Mystère is an ice cream dessert that you buy in supermarkets in France. I used to love them so much when I was little, but I didn’t get to eat so many as I think they were quite pricey.
Somehow, recently I thought about it and wondered if I could pull it off.

The Mystère is a meringue covered with a thick layer of vanilla ice cream then smothered in sweet hazelnuts.
It’s one of the easiest impressive desserts ever. You don’t have to make all the ingredients from scratch if you don’t have time or don’t have the equipment. However, homemade ice cream really takes it to the next level.

I made the ice cream myself so I can’t really say how much there was but probably around half a tub of shop bought ice cream.

For 4-6 Mysteres you’ll need:

– 1 tub of vanilla ice cream
– 4-6 mini meringues
– 100g of dark chocolate (optional)
– 100g of sugar
– 100g of roasted hazelnuts

First, you’ll need to make a praline by heating the sugar in a saucepan, on its own until nice and golden-brown.

Immediately add the hazelnuts and stir them in.

Empty the saucepan onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Leave until completely cooled.

When the nuts are cooled down, roughly break them apart and pulse them in your food processor or grinder until you have a rough powder. You don’t want it too fine, small chunks add texture.

Melt the chocolate and, with a pastry brush, brush it on the meringues. You could dip them in but it’s going to be a lot of chocolate, probably too much. This step is optional but will ensure that the meringues don’t get soggy in the ice cream.

Line small ramequins with cling film and fill them 3/4 of the way with soft ice cream.

Take your meringue (the chocolate should be set) and press it gently into the ice cream until everything is level.

Leave to set in the freezer for a couple of hours.

When the ice cream is set, take it out of the ramequin and roll it into the praline. The whole thing should be completely covered.

You can serve them straight away or store them in the freezer until you need them.

Enjoy!

Mylene

Homemade maltesers

A few months ago, I was looking on the internet for homemade maltersers, I couldn’t find any decent recipes, they all had weird ingredients in and really looked horrid.
It sounds pretty impossible to achieve homemade maltesers as the crunchy middle bit is made industrially and doesn’t seem possible for home cooking, so I was wondering how I could make them.
I nearly dropped the idea when suddenly, out of nowhere, in about 2 seconds, I knew exactly what to do. I think it’s the first time it happened to me, I decided to call it a “food revelation”… Seriously.

My idea was to make tiny little meringues flavoured with malt extract and to cover them with milk chocolate. I know that it sounds really really simple but I haven’t seen it anywhere so I guess it’s too simple for people to think about it.

The finished product is really similar to maltesers, apart from the shape, I just couldn’t get a perfectly round meringue, but I tried my best.

For A LOT of maltesers (but trust me, they go very fast), you’ll need:

– 70g of egg whites (about 2)
– 70g of granulated or caster sugar
– 70g of icing sugar
– 1 tbsp of malt extract
– 200g of good milk chocolate

Whisk the egg whites and as they start to go fluffy, gradually add the granulated sugar.

Keep whisking until firm and glossy. Then add the malt extract, still whisking.

Seive the icing sugar and fold it gently in your meringue. I would usually add a tiny bit of vinegar to make it nice and gooey in the middle but for this recipe, I want a very crispy meringue all the way.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and pipe tiny little meringues. Make them really small, as once coated with chocolate, they’ll be much bigger.

Put in a oven at 100C. Take them out 1 hour after and let them cool down.

Slowly melt your chocolate and pour it in a tall container like a thin mug or a long glass. This will help you dip the meringues easily.

Take a toothpick and stab the flat bit of you meringue, be delicate with it or it will break. Dip it in the chocolate and let it dry on a tray.
You may need more chocolate, depending on its texture.

I recommend coating them the same day as you bake them as they can get soft after a few hours. The chocolate will make the meringue airtight and stop it from getting soft.

Et voila, enjoy!

Mylène

Italian meringue macarons

For the first time, I’m going to share a macaron recipe.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve been able to create good macarons but it hasn’t always been that way.
I rarely use this recipe as I prefer french meringue macarons.

To explain quickly, french meringue macarons are made with egg white whisked with a small amount of sugar to obtain a light but stiff base to then incorporate some icing sugar and ground almonds.
The italian meringue macarons are made by mixing half of the egg white (non whisked) with icing sugar and ground almonds and whisking the other half of the egg whites with hot sugar syrup to make a very stiff, heavy meringue which is then mixed with the almond paste.

Both recipes contain roughly the same amount of ingredients, only the actual method is different.

They also look and taste slightly different: The italian one looks matt and very rounded, with a small “foot” and is fragile and cakey.
The french one looks shiny, with a large foot. They have a slight crunch on the outside and should be chewy inside.

If you’re not a macaron crazy like I am, you may not tell the difference between the two but to me, this is important business.

Here is the recipe and some tips to creating the italian version to perfection.

For about 50 macarons, you’ll need:

– 200g of icing sugar
– 200g of ground almonds
– 2 x 80g of egg whites (4 large egg whites)
– 200g of sugar
– 80ml of water
– food colouring

First, you’ll need to grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together until you get a very thin powder, this will ensure your shells are smooth.
You can do it in a food processor but the almonds will certainly not be fine enough. I use a coffee grinder and it’s perfect. Sieve the powder that you get from doing this.

Heat the sugar and water together and let it reach 110°C.
For this step, it’s highly recommended to use a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, count 4 minutes from boiling and you should get it right.
Just before your sugar reaches 110°C, start whisking half of your egg whites. Don’t whisk the egg whites until they’re firm otherwise the hot syrup will break them.
Add the sugar syrup, still whisking. Keep going until the meringue is cool.
I recommend using a kitchen robot because it will take a while to cool down.

Meanwhile, add the other half of the egg whites to your powders (almonds & icing sugar) and mix until you get a thick paste. You can colour the mix right now with the colour of your choice.

Always go darker than the shade you want as the meringure will lighten it up a lot.
I recommend using powder colours as they are much stronger than paste or liquid colours. The alternative is to add your colour to the meringue instead.

Fold a bit of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it up a bit and then fold in the rest of the meringue.

This stage is the trickiest one: when to stop folding. You may have to fold the mixture for a while before getting the perfect consistency. You don’t want an under-mixed batter as it will form peaks and look rough and you don’t want an over-mixed batter as it will be impossible to pipe and never hold it’s shape as a circle.

The batter needs to be runny but not liquid.
If you take a spoonful of mixture, pour it on you worktop, leave it for 1 minutes, you’ll see how it behaves.

Line baking trays with baking paper, fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe your macarons, this requires practise!

Hit the bottom of the tray to bash the extra air out of the mixture and leave in your dryest room.
If you leave them in your kitchen, they’ll never dry because of the damp air.
This stage may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the weather and the temperature.

When you can very gently touch your macarons without the batter sticking to your finger, they’re ready to go in the oven. 140°C for about 20 minutes.

If you have a gas oven, it will be harder to get perfect macarons as the temperature is usually harder to control than an electric oven.

Take them out after 20 minutes and leave to cool completely before filling them with buttercream, jam, lemon curd, chocolate ganache….

Hope you enjoy the recipe

Mylène

Iles flottantes

The other day, I got given a vanilla pod by the owners of St Giles Cheese in Northampton. They wanted me to try their new arrival of vanilla pods. It was a big fat one, very fragrant.

I absolutely adore fresh vanilla, it’s so delicate in the taste but so strong in the smell.

Anyway, I had to use it but I didn’t really know what to make with it. I wanted something which would make the flavor of the vanilla pod shine and not be overtaken by other ingredients. So I decided to make some Iles flottantes (floating islands).

I’d never made it myself, you can find quite decent ones in supermarkets in France so I never really tried. When I was little, I used to be mad about them (my mum is delighted to tell the stories of me and Iles flottantes).

If you never ate it, it’s something you have to do. It’s a very impressive dessert for dinner parties.

For 6 people, you’ll need:

– 4 eggs, yolk and white separated
– 80g of sugar (for the crème anglaise)+ 90g for the meringue + 50g for the caramel
– 1 vanilla pod, scraped
– 500ml of milk
– 1 tablespoon of water

Make the crème anglaise (runny custard) by heating the milk and the scraped vanilla pod until boiling.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and gently pour the hot vanilla milk while still whisking.

Put it back on a low heat and stir for 5 minutes without boiling. Put it aside and in the fridge for cooling.

For the meringue, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until firm.

Fill a pan with water, simmer it and poach blobs of meringues, 1 minute on each side and put them aside.

Make the caramel by heating sugar and water together until golden brown. Leave it to cool in the fridge.

When you’re serving your dessert, pour some crème anglaise in your serving bowls, then one or two poached meringues and then a tablespoon of caramel, which is going to give the sweetness.

You can make the Iles flottantes the day before you want to eat them and leave them in the fridge

Mylène

Using left-overs from your recipes

Some recipes require only the egg whites, some only the egg yolks, some only half of the pot of cream you just bought…  Most of the time, these left-overs end up in your bin or resting in a plastic tub for weeks… With the prices of food what they are, you can’t really afford waste. Here are some ideas for recipes with these kind of leftovers.

Egg Whites: You can make amazing tasty meringues, crispy on the outside and soft inside, with a very simple recipe: Weigh your egg whites, whisk them and add during whisking the same amount of sugar. When it’s firm and shiny, stop whisking and add the same weight of icing sugar, incorporate it with a wooden spoon. Lay little bits of this mixture on a tray. Cook it in a very very low oven (90-100°C) for about an hour (depends how big are your meringues) or until you can press the meringue without it to break.

Egg Yolks: I have the most amazing recipe of (kind of) crème brûlée ever! It’s dead simple and really quick to prepare. In a pan, pour 150ml of milk and scrape in a vanilla pod. When it arrives to the boil, remove from the heat and add 80g of sugar (or less if you like it less sweet). Leave the mixture to infuse for 5 min. Meanwhile, whisk 3 egg yolks with 150ml of double cream, add the vanilla milk with the vanilla pod removed and pour the mixture into 4 individual ramequins which can allow being put in the oven at high temperatures. Put them in a tin, half filled with water and put it in the oven at 180°C for about 20-30 min. Allow them to cool down and put them in the fridge. This recipe is really nice because you can use your egg yolks, cream and milk left-overs. You can change the flavour as well (crushed nuts, pistachio paste, chocolate…). I usually serve it with a tiny meringue and a layer of homemade caramel sauce on the top (don’t try if you’re on a diet).

You can make delicious pasta carbonara, tasty quiches with you egg yolks as well.

Cream: well, anything really; quiches, pasta and mushroom with a bit of mustard, chocolate truffles, a chocolate sauce, mixed with milk and chocolate, you can have the most amazing hot chocolate you ever tasted.

Milk: rice pudding (recipe in an older post), hot chocolate, confiture de lait (basically the French “dulce de leche” just AMAZING, we call it ‘milk jam’, it’s just milk with sugar and vanilla cooked for ages in a pan… Recipe to follow!

I hope these ideas are going to help you to use your leftovers in amazing tasty dishes.

Mylène

Radio Northampton with Vanessa Kimbell

What an amazing experience! I passed this last Sunday on the radio!! It was on BBC radio Northampton in the morning.

I was contacted Friday evening so I had a very short time to get the idea. I quickly made some samples to taste for the radio staff and had a bit of time to get nervous!

It’s a lady called Vanessa Kimbell who asked me to be on her one hour show. She wrote a cook book and has a lovely blog called Prepped. It was quite scary to go in the studio and speak in this big microphone when you know that many people are going to listen to what you’re saying.

I finally enjoyed it a lot. The atmosphere was relaxed and lovely, the presenters were very nice too. They tasted my patisseries and looked very happy with them.

Now I’m listening back to the recording online and I absolutely hate my voice and accent (you know this feeling when you hear your own voice) but everybody else looked impressed.

People from the BBC are going to send me the recording so I’ll be able to put it up properly on the blog.

Have a greedy day

                                                                               

Mylène