No-bake Chocolate cheesecake

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No-bake cheesecakes are great; so much easier than their baked counterparts. No eggs, no waiting for ages in front of the oven, no wobble doubt and no crack! They also look a lot smarter in my opinion.

In the video, i’m sharing my recipe for a chocolate and hazelnut cheesecake. You can easily miss out the hazelnuts to make it 100% chocolate but I like mine a bit nutty.

For 1 medium cheesecake, you’ll need:

For the base:

-150g of chocolate digestives
-50g of roasted hazelnuts
-55g of melted butter

For the filling:

-170g of melted chocolate
-120g of sugar
-2tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
-150ml of double cream
-250g of room temperature cream cheese
-3tbsp of praline (recipe here)

Ganache topping (optional):

-150g of chocolate
-150g of double cream

You need to start with the base.
In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts and digestives together until you end up with almost no chunks left. Don’t pulse until you have a smooth powder as you won’t get any crunch from the hazelnuts.
Add the butter and pulse again until all incorporated.
Spread and press this mixture evenly in a springform tin.
Put the tin aside in fridge or freezer.

To start the filling, stir the cream cheese and sugar together – set aside.
Whisk the double cream until soft peaks.
Add in the cooled melted chocolate and stir.
Add the cream cheese + sugar mixture to it and stir.
Add 1-2 tbsp of water to the cocoa powder to make a paste.
Stir in the praline to loosen it up before incorporating it to the cheesecake.
Add the cocoa and praline mixture to the chocolatey cream cheese and stir until well combined. Spread this on top of the base and smooth it out as much as possible.

Store the cheesecake in the freezer for 4 hours minimum until 30min to 1 hour before serving.

You can leave the topping out but here is the method for it.

When the cheesecake has been in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours, boil the double cream and pour it on top of the chocolate, make sure the cream has stopped bubbling or your chocolate will split. Stir until the cream and chocolate are combined and pour this ganache on top of the cheesecake.

Put it back in the freezer for at least an extra 2 hours.

Enjoy!

Mylène

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Amaretti biscuits recipe

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I’ve got a couple of recipes for amaretti biscuits and this is one of them. It is gluten, wheat and dairy free. It’s such an easy recipe that uses only a handful of ingredients and is absolutely delicious. If you like marzipan, you’ll love this! The finished biscuit is crisp and slightly crumbly on the outside and soft, with a lovely almond flavour in the inside.

For about 20 biscuits:

– 200g of ground almond
– 150g of icing sugar
– 1 egg white
– 1tsp of almond extract (or more according to taste)
– 1tbsp of amaretto
– icing sugar to dust

Sift the ground almond and icing sugar together to break any lumps.

Add the egg white, almond extract and amaretto. Stir until combined.

Using a small sorbet scoop, scoop balls of the dough and space them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Pinch each ball of dough, this can be sticky so dipping your fingers in icing sugar in between each ball might be helpful.

Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy!

Mylène

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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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Frozen yoghurt recipe

Since about a month, I’ve been obsessing over frozen yoghurt. I tried it in the new year for the first time (shop bought, not the soft scoop ones) and loved it straight away.
It’s become a habit in the evening in front of a film to have a bit of frozen yoghurt as dessert. Of course I had to try it myself and it was a success.

Now I make a batch once a week, it doesn’t cost much and it’s a very easy thing to do, you only need 2 to 3 ingredients but an ice cream machine is vital.

You’ll need to use natural bio-live yoghurt, I started to buy these 1kg tubs, perfect for a weekly batch. I’ve never used greek style yoghurt as I heard it was too rich and creamy to use for frozen yoghurt.

I like it with fruits, it’s very fresh and tasty. You can use pretty much any fruits you like.
So far I’ve used mixed berries (bought frozen, best quality and cheap), strawberries, passion fruits and mango.
All you need to do is blend or juice the fruits into smooth purée or juice. I never measure how much fruit I put in, I just eye it.
To give you a rough idea, I used a whole mango for 1kg of yoghurt and for the passion fruit one, I used the juice of 6 fresh passion fruits…
You can also use other flavours like chocolate, vanilla, caramel… but I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t really give you advice on it.

The frozen yoghurts I made had different results, the strawberry one tasted just like ice cream while the other ones had a strong yoghurt taste.

To sweeten the yoghurt, I use 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar per kg of yoghurt depending on what type of fruit I use. The sweeter the fruits, the less sugar you’ll need to add.

To store it, I use used tubs of 500g of yoghurt, it fits nicely in the freezer.
It freezes pretty hard but not completely solid so if you want to scoop it out, take the yoghurt out of the freezer 20 min before serving. I honestly don’t mind it hard as I eat it out of the tub (should I really share this information?) but I would if I was going to serve it to other people.

For 2.5 tubs:

– 1kg of bio live natural yoghurt
– 1 cup of sugar
– fruit puree or juice

Pour the yoghurt in a large bowl and add the sugar.

Stir and let it sit until the sugar has dissolved, around 2 mins.

Add the fruit purée and stir until well combined.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and let it churn for 30 min.

Spoon the frozen mixture into containers. Freeze and eat whenever!

Pecan biscuits

I know, it’s been a while (or should I say ages) since my last blog post.
I’ve been so busy in the last couple of months, I didn’t have any time to write. The other reason is that I’m always quite strict about the sort of recipes that I share, they have to be really good ones that I love, not just some random stuff that I thought was ok.

I have been baking a lot since my last post but none of the stuff I made blew my mind. Until… The pecan biscuits.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with pecan nuts. I seem to have a massive ideal in my mind about how they’re going to taste like, mainly because when I was a teenager, I wasn’t really allowed to buy any because they’re so expensive.
They became a sort of luxury baking product to me. The thing is that my “pecan bakes” never taste as good as I thought they would. Until…

The pecan biscuits recipe:

For about 15 biscuits/cookies, you’ll need:

– 115g of butter
– 75g of sugar
– 130g of plain flour
– 100g of finely chopped pecan nuts

Cream butter and sugar together until light and pale. Add the flour and nuts.

Refrigirate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven at 170C.

Shape balls with the dough and place on your baking sheet or tray, lined with baking paper.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the base of the biscuit starts to go brown.

You could eat them as they are or roll them in icing sugar.

Wait until cool before eating.

They’re really buttery and subtly nutty. Very crumbly too. I would say quite similar to a shortbread but 10 times better.

Mylène

Which kind of vanilla to use in your recipe

Vanilla is one of those things I take very seriously.
I think I’m a little bit obsessed about it but that’s ok. I used to think about it as a very bland and a bit too safe flavour, something you give to a fussy eater but since a couple of years, I’ve been experimenting a lot and realised that it’s maybe a simple flavour that everybody knows but it can be a very complex one too.

Over the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with it more and more with different recipes and combinations with other flavours. I’m going to tell you what are the big differences between all the commercial forms of vanilla and what I think is the best for your usual recipes.

Vanilla extract

extract

It’s probably the most used form of vanilla in the UK and US. It’s mainly made from alcohol (so you can’t buy it if you’re under the legal age, I know, vanilla extract binge drinking…). I find that even the really good quality ones still tastes fake. I almost never use it but I think the best way to cook with it is to bake it in cookies, combined with other flavours like chocolate and brown sugar.

Vanilla paste

paste

This is the strongest form I’ve used so far. It’s highly concentrated and still has vanilla bean inside. The taste is quite similar to the vanilla extract but tastes a little bit more real. It’s great in cakes. I would use it with care as it can overpower other flavours.

Vanilla powder

powder

This is the form I use the most in my everyday cooking. It’s strong but not as much as the vanilla paste. It’s basically vanilla pods that have been grinded so it’s a mix of seeds and bits of vanilla pod. I put it almost everywhere.
It’s very good value as well, one little pot will last you ages.

Vanilla sugar

sugar

I make my own vanilla sugar with leftover pods that are already scraped, you only need to put them in a container with ordinary sugar. The vanilla will infuse the sugar and the leftover seeds you couldn’t srape properly are going to give loads of flavour too. It’s great sprinkled on pancakes or with my pain perdu recipe. You can use it to bake as well, it just doesn’t have the strength to stand out amongst other flavours.

Vanilla pod

vanilla

I kept the best for last. It is definetly the best form of vanilla to use. If you want a clean vanilla flavour, this is the one to use.
I don’t even combine it with another flavour, I love to put it in custard, ice cream, rice pudding… Something that will really show off the flavour.
I know it’s a luxury as it’s quite pricey but it’s 100% worth it. And don’t forget to make vanilla sugar with your leftovers.

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