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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Gluten free chocolate cake

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I’m not gluten intolerant but I’m always trying new recipes and the other day, I had a tin of chestnut purée to use up so this recipe came about.

I find that this cake is a mixture of opposites : it’s dense but light, intense but delicate.
It’s dense because there’s no flour to support it. It’s light because of all the egg whites in it. It’s delicate in one bite but becomes intense after a whole slice. Needless to say that I love this cake.

Even if you’re not on a gluten free diet, give it a go, it might surprise you.

For a large cake, you’ll need:

– 225g of melted chocolate
– 125g of soft butter
– 70g of white sugar
– 6 eggs, separated
– 1 tin of chestnut puree

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Put aside.

Whisk the butter with the sugar until pale.

Gradually add the egg yolks.

Whisk in the chestnut purée and then the melted chocolate.

Add a small amount of egg white and fold it in. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a lined cake tin with a removable bottom.

Bake for 1 hour.

The cake should be risen but still slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool completely before serving.

Enjoy!

Mylène

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nutty oaty cookies

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This recipe is one I use all the time. I spent quite a while trying to find the perfect cookie recipe (don’t we all…) and I’m pretty positive I’ve found the best: chocolate chip, oat & nut and also triple chocolate cookies. I’m keeping the other 2 for other blog posts but today I’ll share with you my oat, chocolate, raisin & nut cookie recipe.

Warning for this recipe: do not over bake!!!!
Even if the cookies look like they are underdone, if you wait until they are completely golden brown, they’ll be as hard as brick.

A tip for lazy cooks: I usually make a full batch of these and freeze most of them.
That way when you really can’t be bothered with cooking pudding one night, just bang a few in the oven and you’re done!

To freeze them, you’ll need to make balls with the dough on a tray and put the whole tray in the freezer. After about 1 hour, the dough balls will be stiff enough to be stored in a freezer bag without sticking to each other!

For 30-35 cookies, you’ll need:

– 125g of butter
– 100g of dark brown sugar
– 100g of white sugar
– 1 egg
– 200g of self raising flour
– 60g of rolled oats
– 100g of good quality dark chocolate chips
– 100g of raisins
– 100g of walnuts or whatever you have in your cupboard, roughly chopped

Cream butter and sugars together until lighter in colour and fluffy

Add the egg.

Stir in the flour and the oats.
Before the flour is completely combined, add the chocolate, raisins and nuts. Don’t over mix the dough.

Make small dollops with the dough (or even better, use an ice cream scoop), space them on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 min at 180 degrees or until golden on the edges but still pale in the middle.

Once they are out of the oven, leave them to cool for at least 10 min as they’ll still be very soft and won’t be able to be handled. You need patience, a lot of it to stop yourself from munching on the hot cookies!

Enjoy!

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Mylène

Bakewell Tart

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This week, I’m sharing with you a video recipe! Yay!! This bakewell tart used to be my number 1 favourite when I was about 16. My gran made it once and gave me her recipe, I thought the sweet jam (she used apricot, a LOT of it) with fragranced almonds and earthy pine nuts was the absolute perfect combination.

I hadn’t made it for years so when I bit into the one I made for the video, it took me way back. I used damson jam instead which was a really good alternative, less sweet than apricot & more fruity.

Regarding the filling, as I didn’t have the original recipe, I looked around the internet for regular bakewell tarts but was unsatisfied with all of them (too little egg, too much sugar, flour???) so I made up my own. To me, the pine nuts are essential as they really take the tart to a whole new level. They balance out the sweetness that can sometimes be overwhelming.

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

– 120g of ground almonds
– 120g of sugar
– 120g of soft butter
– 75g of pine nuts
– 2 small eggs
– half a lemon zest
– 1.5-2 tbsp of jam, damson or raspberry are best
– a pastry case, 20cm, already blind baked (see my pate sablee recipe)

Preheat oven at 180 degrees.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one. Add the ground almonds and lemon zest. Add 50g of pine nuts, keep the remaining 25g for decoration.
Spread the jam onto the pastry. Spread the almond mix on top of the jam. Sprinkle with the remaining 25g of pine nuts.

Bake for about 35min or until the middle of the tart doesn’t wobble.

Leave to cool completely or eat it slightly warm.

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Mylène

Traditional tiramisu

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This is definitly a favourite of our household. It never lasts very long and is enjoyed with lots of “mmmhhhh” and “thish ish sho delishous”.

The recipe is traditional but I added my own little touches.

Some notes…

Regarding the use of raw eggs, the subject seems to be very controversial but I honestly don’t mind. These days, raw egg related diseases are almost non-existent so… it’s up to you if you feel comfortable with eating uncooked eggs.

If you don’t have amaretto, don’t panic, you can replace it with rum or other alcohol. Just think if the alcohol you have would work with the flavours of the tiramisu, or if you’re in doubt, just leave it out altogether.

I’ve seen some people “soaking” the sponge fingers for only 1-2 seconds.
If you like your tiramisu very mild and the biscuits to be still quite chewy, then don’t soak them for very long. I personally prefer to soak them for longer but that’s just me!

Anyway, here’s the recipe.

For about 5 servings, you’ll need:

– 3 eggs
– 250g (1 tub) of mascarpone
– 100g of sugar
– 1 bowl of very strong coffee
– 1 tbsp of cocoa powder + 2 more for dusting
– 3 tbsp of amaretto
– 1 packet of sponge fingers
– vanilla extract (optional)

First, make the coffee and stir in the cocoa powder and amaretto. The cocoa powder might sink at the bottom of the bowl so make sure you stir it often.

Separate the eggs yolks from the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites with half of the sugar until firm.

Whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the room temperature mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
Add a little bit of the egg whites to the egg yolks-mascarpone and fold it in. Then add the rest of the egg whites in one go. If you’re using vanilla extract, add it now.

layers

Soak half of the sponge fingers in the coffee and lay them on the bottom of your dish.
Depending on how strong you like the tiramisu, you can soak them a tiny bit of leave them until soft. Add half of the creamy mixture and then repeat the layers one more time.

Leave in the fridge for at least 3h. Before serving, dust with coca powder.

If you’re going to make double, you can double the layers too.

smoothing

YouTube video link

Mylène

Receiving our new Kenwood products

We’ve just moved premises and I desperately needed some new equipment for the kitchen. Kenwood has been kind enough to send us some vital pieces.

I don’t know what it is about new kitchen equipment/gadgets/anything that has to do with cooking but I get very excited by it all. If you leave me in a kitchen shop alone with a credit card, it can be very dangerous.
When asked about what I would buy if I won the lottery, I always think “A massive kitchen with all the utensils and all the equipment I’d like”. That’s how bad it is.

food processor

Anyway, I knew I’d get the stuff on Thursday so all week I built up my excitement and on THE day, at 10am, someone knocked at the door… I ran to open the door and it was…. Jehovah’s witnesses. I’m not joking.

The Kenwood stuff arrived a couple of hours later and I got to open the boxes. It felt like Christmas, even though I knew exactly what was in the boxes, I was still very excited.

So we got 3 pieces of the Kmix range. A stand mixer, a hand mixer and a food processor. I’m very familiar with the stand mixer already as I have been using one for the last couple of years (I had to give it back) but I didn’t know anything about the two other products.

hand mixer

What I really like about them is that they are very steady and you get a sense of quality, you can really tell it’s going to last you forever. And they are not just high quality, they look the business too.
They’re designed to stay on your worktop so they’re very “storage efficient” as well. For example, the hand mixer comes with a stand and the food processor comes with suction cups underneath to secure it to the worktop and a bowl to put on the top of it especially designed to fit all the bits and pieces that come with it. It’s really clever.

I had a closer look at the rest of the Kmix range and you can buy all sorts of attachments seperately, especially for the stand mixer. For example there is a pasta machine that can be stuck at the end of the machine…

All their products have been designed so well, they’re incredibly practical and look the part.

Very sadly, I won’t be able to show off the food processor or the hand mixer on my worktop because I have to store them away otherwise I don’t have enough space to cook… I need a bigger kitchen.

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More information about all products can be found at the Kenwood World Website.

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

Pâte sablée

In France, you can find quite a big range of pre-made pastries in supermarkets.
Most of them are already rolled out in a circle for you and it becomes harder and harder to find a block of pastry to roll in the shape you want.

You can find 3 different sorts of pastry: the “pâte feuilletée” which is puff pastry, the “pâte brisée” which is the equivalent of shortcrust but a bit different (I find it a bit more crispy and buttery) and then you have the “pâte sablée” which translates to “sanded pastry”, that pastry is used for sweet tarts and pies only. It’s very crumbly and buttery and a bit harder to work with as it contains less flour and more sugar than the two others.

I really like the pâte sablée because it gives a really crisp and sweet result, it tastes and looks much more like “French patisseries” than the other pastries.

I have made it myself since a while now. I normally use it for individual little tarts and I’ve used it a couple of times for big ones. The only down side is that it’s harder to work with.
When you actually make the pastry, it looks like cookie dough; it’s very sticky.
You’ll also need to chill it before you use it and the rolling requires a lot of flour on your worktop.

Tip:

If you’re planning to make a large tart, I highly recommend using a loose bottom tin: when you roll out your pastry, take the loose bottom part of the tin and slide it underneath your rolled pastry.
Fold the edges of the pastry inside the edges of the loose bottom and return it to the tin, then you only have to unfold the edges to make the sides. This way your pastry won’t break away too much.

For 500g of pastry or pâte sablée (1 large tart), you’ll need:

– 140g of butter
– 100g of sugar
– 1 egg
– 200g of flour
– 50g of ground almonds
– vanilla powder or extract

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour and ground almonds and mix until well combined but do not overwork it otherwise you’ll end up with tough pastry.

Put it in cling film and leave it in the fridge for 1h before using it.

You need to refrigerate it after it’s been rolled out in your tin.

The colder it is before you put it in the oven, the better it is.

If you’re planning on blind baking it, don’t forget to stab it with a fork in the tin and to use baking beans.

This pastry freezes really well. I usually make a lot of it and freeze it in little portions.

For a recipe on our blog using this type of pastry click the image below…

banoffee pie

Mylène