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

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!

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

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

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

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.

attachments

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

How to make a good sorbet

The last couple of weeks have been so hot that I’ve been craving for sorbet.
I own an ice cream machine but use it rarely because I don’t usually have time to make ice cream or sorbet.

We’re going on holiday in a couple of days so I had to empty the fridge and our perishable food. I happened to have quite a lot of strawberries and cherries. I also had a bottle of limoncello I’ve been waiting to try in recipes since a while. All the omens were there: I had to do a sorbet.

I’ve made sorbets in the past but never really got it right. It was always rock hard or it would melt away after 2 minutes in a cup. So I had a look on-line for advice and found out how easy it is to master a sorbet.

You’ll need a few ingredients (for the measures, I used US cups):

– 3 measures of juice of your choice or fruit puree, relatively thin.

If you’re planning on making a lemon or lime sorbet, use 2 measures of juice and one of water otherwise your sorbet will be too sharp.

– (Sugar Syrup) 1 measure of sugar, boiled until the sugar has disolved, with 1 measure of water

– 2 to 3 tablespoons of a fruity alcohol

First make the sugar syrup and leave it to cool completely.

Pour your fruit juice in a tall and shallow container.
Add an egg to it (a whole egg, still in its shell). This may sound weird but as you add your sugar syrup to the fruit juice, the egg will float to the surface.

Add the syrup little bit by little bit, you may not need the whole quantity.

When the egg floats, it means that the amount of syrup is enough to make your sorbet the right texture.

Add the alcohol, it will help the sorbet not to become rock hard as the alcohol won’t freeze.

Taste your mixture.
It should be slightly too sweet. Once frozen, you’ll taste it less as it’s so cold. Don’t worry if you can taste the booze, I thought I put too much in mine but couldn’t taste any of it once frozen.

sorbet with mint

Mylène

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

Malt loaf

I had my first malt loaf about 3 years ago. We don’t have them in France so it was a new thing to try.

I really like it but I’m not a malt loaf addict like I know some people are.
I knew it was time for me to have a go at it, how hard could it be? Well… finding malt extract was quite a long process, I couldn’t find any in supermarkets so headed to my local whole-food shop.
If I understand right, malt extract used to be a sort of horrid supplement that kids use to be obligated to eat (Winnie the Pooh reference there!).

I couldn’t help myself from opening the jar in the car on the way home just to see what the fuss was about. To me, it smells and taste like maltesers, it’s quite nice just to eat it on it’s own.

Don’t expect a malt loaf you might make to be exactly like the commercial ones because they’re not. Mine wasn’t as stodgy and sticky.
After making a malt loaf, you should keep it airtight in a plastic bag for a couple of days to make it go a bit more sticky.

malt

For 2 loaves you’ll need:

– 150ml of hot tea
– 2 eggs
– 85g of brown sugar
– 150g of malt extract
– 25g of black treacle
– 250g of plain flour
– 1tsp of baking powder
– half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda
– 300g of raisins

Preheat your oven at 150C.

Line 2 loaf tins with baking paper.

Pour the malt extract, treacle, sugar and raisins in the hot tea and stir well!

Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda to the mixture.

Pour the batter in the prepared tins and bake for 50 minutes.

That’s it.

The usual way to eat it is in slices with butter. Toasted it is also very good.

Mylène

Lemon cookies

A few weeks ago, I made some lime biscuits to use up some leftover egg yolks. I had high hopes for them but was very disappointed in the result.
I think it’s only a matter of personal taste as Matthew really loved them. They were crumbly and quite shortbread-like.

I think lime and sweet biscuit/pastry don’t really work for me.

I read about a lemon cookie recipe but wasn’t too sure about it. Although, it won the award for the best cookie in the US so really, I had to try.

The cookies looked really underdone in the pictures so I experimented. I tried to bake one batch for the same length of time as on the recipe and with another batch I baked them for a few minutes longer, until golden, just to see the difference.

My advice is to take them out before they get golden otherwise they are just boring crispy lemon biscuits and don’t have that chewy moist texture.

I’ll definitly make them again, it was a really nice change from chocolate-chip biscuits, a bit fresh and definitely fresher and less sickly.

Next time though, I’ll add more lemon zest to make it stronger.

For 25 chewy lemon biscuits you’ll need:

– 115g of butter
– 200g of sugar
– 1 egg
– 1 tsp of lemon zest
– 1 tbsp of lemon juice
– a pinch of salt
– 1/4 tsp of baking powder
– a pinch of baking soda
– 190g of plain flour
– 75 g of icing sugar

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.

Add the egg, lemon juice, zest and salt.
Stir in the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Make walnut sized balls, toss them in icing sugar, place them on a baking tray.

Cook at 180°C for about 10 minutes.

Leave to cool down and 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

Sesame bars

The other day, I was looking for a recipe using golden syrup. I really love it, it’s one of the proper British thing I enjoy a lot.

Anyway, I was browsing through some recipes and I found a sesame bar recipe.
When I was at school, everybody used to have a snack at the 10 o’clock break, I was one the only one that didn’t have anything to eat…
Luckily, my best friend always used to give me a bit of hers. Her parents were very healthy food orientation-wise so she would always have sesame bars.

I’m sure you know what they are; they’re very small thin bars with 4 or 5 of them in a tiny packet. They’re great for kids because they are just sweet enough for them to enjoy but still good for nutrition.
With high hopes to recreate this vivid childhood taste, I started the recipe…

It’s very simple and quick. When I put all the ingredients together in my tin, I didn’t think it would be good at all, it just looked like a big mess to me.
Well I was wrong (once more)! Once it cools down, it gets really hard, just like the proper stuff.

It was very nice and did meet my expectations. Even if I was happy with it, I’ll try again with honey instead of golden syrup, just to see the difference.

For about 20 bars, you’ll need:

– 200g of sesame seeds
– 125g of oatmeal
– 3tbsp of golden syrup
– 50g of brown sugar
– 4tbsp of vegetable oil

Gently heat the golden syrup in a pan.

Combine the sesame, oatmeal and brown sugar. Add the oil and warm syrup.

Stir until well combined, pour it in a 20 x 30cm tin, previously lined with baking paper.

Bake for 25min at 180C until golden.

Cut while warm as it will get hard when cooled.

sesame bars

Mylène

Millefeuille

This is a recipe I would never have thought about sharing. In fact, I didn’t used to like it at all until I made my own.
It’s a very impressive dessert to serve, it has a very nice patisserie look, if you can say that.

It’s not a hard recipe but it’s quite time consuming as you will get a lot of dirty bowls and dishes to wash up.

There are also a couple of tricks to the recipe that will make it look very professional.

For a dozen millefeilles, you’ll need:

– 1 1/2 shop bought puff pastry packs (750g)
– 800g to 1kg of cooled stiff custard (just add 40g of cornflour instead of 10 and add 30g of butter when the custard is still hot)
– 100g of icing sugar
– 20g of chocolate

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Cut your unrolled pastry into 3 identical rectangles.
Roll them as thin as you can, place them on trays (one for each sheet) layered with baking paper.

Stab the whole sheet of pastry with a fork, put another sheet of baking paper on the top and then another tray. This will help your pastry to stay flat, don’t worry, the pastry will still be flaky.
If you don’t follow that trick, your pastry will rise far too much.

Put them in the oven for about 25min, or until golden.

When your 3 sheets of pastry are cooked and cooled down, place the first one on a rack and spread it evenly with half of the custard.

Then place a second sheet, push on it a tiny bit and spread with the rest of the custard.

Put the last pastry sheet on the top and press a little.

For the icing:

Mix the icing sugar with a couple of teaspoons of hot water until you get a runny paste. If you make it too runny, you can always add more icing sugar to it.

Melt the chocolate and pour it in a little piping bag.

Next, you need to be quick!

Spread the icing on the top layer of pastry and pipe lines of chocolate over the top.

Take a cocktail stick and run it across the lines of chocolate in opposing directions. You can freestyle a bit on that part.

Keep the whole thing in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.

Trim the edges with a bread knife and cut your mille feuille into 12 slices or serve it whole.

It only keeps 2 days in the fridge as the pastry gets soggy. I recommend making it the same day if you’re planning to eat it in the evening or the day before if you’re eating it for lunch.

Mylène

A really good vanilla custard

In France, we call runny custard “creme anglaise” (English cream) and I really understood why in the first year I lived here. You eat A LOT of it! You seem to have it with or in most puddings.
In France, most puddings and desserts are served as they are, no cream or custard required. There are some things like chocolate brownies or a very chocolatey and rich cake with which we do serve custard but it has to be very cold and is usually quite runny.
And then we have the creme patissière, a thick custard.

The other thing that surprises me is that everybody (I mean most people) use shop bought custard.
I think that english people have a very different approach to shop bought stuff. You would never think about serving a shop bought custard in France, some guests would be quite insulted if you didn’t make your own.

custard_mix

Home-made custard is simple and 100 times better.

If you make your own, I assure you, the people you are cooking for will know and will appreciate the fact that you spent the 5-10 extra minutes to make it from scratch (tip for come-dine-with-me contestants). For me, the 2 things you need for a very quick and quality custard are corn flour and vanilla – you can use any sort of vanilla (extract, pod, paste…) but I highly recommend a vanilla pod or the vanilla powder.

I love vanilla powder so much. I use it everywhere. I can’t bare the extract anymore. You can find vanilla powder in good supermarkets and it’s fairly cheap for the quantity and quality you get.

I’m sure you already know the recipe but I’ll put it anyway!

For 800g of vanilla custard, you’ll need:

– 500ml of milk
– 5 egg yolks
– 100g of sugar
– 10g of cornflour (optional, it’s just much quicker)
– Vanilla

Heat the milk and vanilla together.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until fluffy and light yellow.

When the milk is boiling, add a little of it, a bit at a time, to the egg mixture without stopping whisking.

Bring it back to the hob and put on a medium heat. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until it reaches the constistency you’re looking for.

It will get thicker when it cools.

If your custard is lumpy, whisk it and if the lumps are still there, you can seive it.
You can adjust the quantity of cornflour you need. If you want it thicker, put more of it or if you like it thinner, put less.

If you want a stiffer custard, for a trifle or a vanilla slice, you need more cornflour (about 40g).

Mylène

Chocolate biscuits / cookies

When I haven’t got a very busy day, I usually look around the internet, reading blogs and websites just to see if they have any interesting recipes I could try myself. Well, let me tell you, this is really dangerous: I absolutely ALWAYS find something, usually sweet, of course, and want to make it straight away. “Oh but there is that tart we have to finish and some leftover fudge, I don’t really need to make anything else” The last sentence was the voice of reason, I don’t listen to it very often when it comes to cooking, so I find myself on a Sunday at 11pm with a whole batch of chocolate biscuits, on my own.

This recipe, I don’t regret a bit. I found the recipe on a french blog but obviously, the original version is Martha Stewart’s. These are definitely the best chocolate biscuits I’ve ever made.

They are basically a stiff brownie batter, made into biscuits. They are very chocolaty but not bitter at all, chewy but crisp on the outside… Yum. They are a bit messy to shape but if you don’t mind licking your chocolaty fingers once the batch is in the oven, this recipe is for you.

For 30 biscuits, you’ll need:

– 115g of dark chocolate
– 90g of flour
– 25g of cocoa powder
– 1 tsp of baking powder
– 60g of butter
– 150g of sugar
– 40g of milk
– 1 egg
– 60g of icing sugar, to coat

Melt the chocolate on its own and leave it to cool.

Cream butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add the egg and melted chocolate and carry on mixing.

Sieve flour, cocoa and baking powder together in a bowl.

Add half of it to the chocolate mixture, then the milk and then the rest of the powders.

Leave the mix in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Take your dough and form walnut size balls, coat them in icing sugar and put on a tray. Space your balls at least 2 inches from each other.

Bake for 15 minutes. Do not leave them for more than that, they will look too soft but they will firm up when they cool down.

Eat cold.

chocolate biscuits

Mylène

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

Dairy-free birthday cake

Last week, I’ve been asked to make a dairy free birthday cake. I started to look around for recipes but soon realised that all of them were just a normal cake recipe only with dairy free margarine instead of butter.

It seems that in the uk, people are really used to using magarine in their baking, in France, it would just be shocking; it’s full fat butter or.. nothing.

So as a French lady, it’s how I bake. I only recently started to use half vegetable fat in some of my pastry recipes (as taught by my mother in law).It was really easy to find good dairy free margarine – so I was off!

I made a regular Madeira cake (you find the recipe anywhere, it’s practically always the same), using the contents of a vanilla pod for flavouring. The batter looked and smelled normal.

I was really scared as I took it out of the oven as the wait to cool down seemed soooo long but after cutting the top (to make it flat) and tasting it, I was relieved. It tasted just like a normal cake.

You might be thinking “well yeah, of course it worked, you French woman, I use magarine all the time in my cakes” but for me, it was something expected!!!

After some “marzipaning” and decorating, here is the final result.

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