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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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

Honey-roasted nuts

I love honey roasted nuts, I discovered them in the uk and it was love at first bite. The thing is that I like them quite sweet, nicely coated in honey.

Supermarkets offer some very expensive and very salty ones, with absolutely no taste of honey at all. I prefer the ones you find on mediterranean stalls but they’re incredibly expensive.

I found a few recipes, they were all similar but different in the same time. I found one that combined maple syrup and honey… Heaven.
Anyway, I got all the ingredients ready and started. I followed the recipe but just added a little more honey. I found the roasting time a bit short so made it a little longer.

The result was really great, you get golden brown nuts with a deep honey flavour but there are two things I wasn’t too happy with: the first is that the nuts stuck quite a lot to each other so I had to take them apart while they were still warm, one by one. The other thing is just my personal taste, I would have liked a bit more coating, I really like them very sweet. Everybody else thought they were just right.

nuts

You’ll need:

– 450g of nuts of your choice (I used almonds and cashews)
– 3 tbsp of honey
– 1 tbsp of maple syrup
– 30g of butter
– vanilla powder or extract, to your taste
– 1 pinch of cinnamon
– 2 tbsp of sugar

Heat the honey, syrup, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a pan until all melted.

Lay aluminium foil on a roasting tray, transfer the nuts and syrup onto it. Make sure you coat all the nuts with the syrup.

Put the tray in the oven (180C) for 6 min.

Take the tray out and mix all the nuts, making sure they all get another layer of hot syrup on them.

Put the tray back in the oven for 6min.

If you’re happy with the look of your nuts at this stage, you can decide to take them out now or give them a stir and put them back in for a further 6min.

The nuts should be golden brown and the syrup not too runny.

Toss them in sugar while hot and eat cold.

Mylène

No new year’s resolutions… A very sweet recipe

I’m warning you now: the recipe I’m about to share will not fit in with a new year’s resolution plan to eat less sugar. But it’s soooo good….

I’ve made it twice now and I don’t know why I don’t make it more often, I absolutely love it, as does everybody!

I especially like the texture of the cake, which is really “almondy” but still moist, the outside it crisp and sweet and the orange syrup… it’s lovely.

It’s also great for dinner parties as well as for a quick pudding for 2, so fast and easy, you don’t need any fancy ingredients.

For 6 muffin sized cakes, you’ll need:

for the cakes:

– 70g of plain flour
– 110g of sugar
– 110g of ground almonds
– 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder
– 50g of chooped dated, or raisins
– 75g of melted butter
– 2 tablespoons of milk
– 1 egg

For the syrup:

– 110g of sugar
– the juice and zest of 1 orange

For the cakes, mix all the ingredients together, pour in muffin tins and put in the oven at 160°C for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by combining the sugar, orange zest and juice in a saucepan.

Simmer the mixture until slightly thickened (this will take about 10 minutes).

When the cakes are cooked, leave them to cool down for a bit before pouring the syrup on the top of each cake.

Eat cold.

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

Express greediness

This Easter has been soooo busy this year. A part of my family came to visit and I really wanted to celebrate properly. Actually, I made myself busy… I made my own chocolate eggs (which took a very long while), I also made some egg shaped chocolate macarons, decorated biscuits…

We had a very nice time all together, the weather was not as good as expected but it was ok at the end.

Anyway, I wanted to share a recipe I’ve found a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes, especially in the evening, I’m absolutely dying for something sweet after dinner but I haven’t got anything suitable. It’s during one of these times that I’ve found this recipe online. Of course, I didn’t feel like cooking anything too long (more than 5 minutes)and I wanted something delicious.

So, let’s talk about this ultra super express sweet pleasure!! It’s a Spanish biscuit called mantecao, it is extremely crumbly so very delicate. I honestly don’t know any other recipe as quick, easy and delicious as this. Enough with my blablabla, here’s the recipe…

For about 20 biscuits:

–  100g of sunflower oil
–  100g of sugar
–  200g of plain flour
–  A teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together, make little balls, bake for 10-12min at 180°C. The biscuits must not be golden or brown, they have to stay white otherwise they’ll be rock hard. Leave to cool down and eat.

I told you it was quick!

Some people add lemon rind, cinnamon… The original recipe is made with lard. The thought of it makes me sick but if you’re not vegetarian and your taste buds are not sissies, you’re welcome to try the real thing.

Berry swirl bun internet research…..

When I have some free time on my own, I cook, of course, and I love looking for new recipes, usually on the internet.
It was during one of these moments that I found this recipe. It’s Jamie Oliver’s one, which means that you can’t really be disappointed.
So, the recipe is a Swedish bun with berries. The official recipe is with blueberries but I used blackcurrants, which are sharper and go very well with sweet buns.

Like any buns or pastries, it’s better just when it’s straight out of the oven so don’t feel bad if you can’t resist!

You’ll need:

–  One packet of yeast (7g) stirred in
–  375 ml of warm milk
–  2 eggs
–  A teaspoon of grounded cardamom
–  200g of sugar
–  A bit of salt
–  800g of plain flour
–  50g of melted butter
–  For the filling: between 200 and 400g of berries of your choice, roughly mashed in 75g of sugar and a tiny bit of orange juice

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, the salt, cardamom, butter, sugar, 500g of flour and the milk and yeast mixture.

It’s going to be thick and sticky.

Then add the rest of the flour. Knead this dough until it’s soft and lovely.

Put it back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to raise in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles of size.

Put the dough on your worktop and make a rectangle with it (use your hands). It doesn’t have to be big, about 30 cm long and 20 large.

Pour the berry mixture on it and then take the edges of your pastry and fold it in the middle and press gently to let the berries go into the pastry. Fold again.

It doesn’t have to be precise, it’s actually supposed to be quit messy.

Cut the dough into eight bits (I like having little portions so you can cut it into more than eight) and stretch and pull each portion in a long thin “kind of sausage”.

Roll this around your finger and put it on a baking tray with baking parchment on.

Do the same with all of the portions.

Leave these uncooked buns for 30 min in a warm place.

Cook for half an hour at 180°C until gold and crispy.

Tadaaaaam!!!!