recipe blog


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

A sold-out Christmas

This year, Christmas was CRAZY!! We ran out of boxes for our macarons and couldn’t get anymore from our French supplier. We also got a very very very big order for the beginning of january (but we are not aloud to say anything yet – top secret) so we didn’t really have any time for anything else.

So as you can imagine, I have very little time to sit down, have a cup of tea and write something. This is why I’m not going to give you a full recipe but only a great idea.

I made a starter for christmas eve, as all the family was at home. It was a first and I’ll definitly make it again.

On the day before, I made a mushroom and courgette risotto, I cooked it a tiny bit more than I would normally do as I needed to be able to shape it afterwards.

I left it in the fridge overnight.

About 30 mins before serving…

make balls with the risotto, about the size of an egg.

Coat the balls first with flour, then with lightly beaten egg and then with breadcrumbs.

Deep fry them until golden brown. (To keep them warm, leave them in an oven).

You can present them with some rocket, lettuce and watercress.

Everybody really loved them, they looked a lot like scotch eggs so they have a bit of a surprise effect. For any occasion’s starter, it’s really great and not too filling.

Mylene

Pain d’épices

For this first december post, I wanted to share something that sounds very christmassy.

To me, it doesn’t really feel like christmas is only in 3 weeks as we were thinking about christmas biscuits and products to make ages and ages ago. However, something that makes me think of christmas is gingerbread cake (pain d’epices in french, meaning spiced bread).

When I looked online for a british recipe, I found out they were all with golden syrup and most of them with black treacle. The french recipes use honey instead, as golden syrup and treacle are practically unknown in France.

I was quite excited to use golden syrup, I absolutely love the smell of it but I was really disappointed… I didn’t find that wintery taste I was looking for, I could hardly taste the spices and the treacle was overpowering, even if I didn’t put much at all.

So what was I going to do???? Well, like most girls when they don’t know what to do, I phoned mummy!

As I already knew to use honey instead of golden syrup, I only wanted to know what blend of spices she uses. In french supermarkets, you can buy a gingerbread mix, the spices are already put all together so it’s really easy to use.

I’m a great believer of using fresh, unground spices, you get much more flavour, so I had to buy all these spices that I couldn’t find anywhere for weeks but I finally did (except one).

I was very happy with my final french gingerbread, just how I like it!

pain d'epices

For 1 gingerbread, you’ll need:

– 1 desertspoon of mixed spices (cinnamon, staranise, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, clove)
– 250g of honey
– 50g of sugar
– 10cl of milk
– 100g of butter
– 200g of flour
– 1 egg
– 40g of ground almonds
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon of baking soda
– the zest of an orange

Heat up the milk and honey together in a pan.

When it comes to the boil, take it off of the hob and add the butter.

When it’s melted, add the sugar, flour, egg, ground almonds, baking powder, soda, orange zest and spices.

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin (or little individual ones) and bake for about 45min to an hour, until completely cooked in the middle.

Leave to cool down and eat!

Mylène

(Sort of) Chelsea buns

Like a lot of people, I watched this year’s series of The Great British bake off.

One of the last recipes shown was the Chelsea bun. I never tried that kind of buns before so I decided to give it a go.

I read the complete recipe before I made it. (I didn’t really know if I had all the ingredients for the filling but thought it would be ok anyway) so when I had to prepare the filling, I read: dried apricots, raisins, dried cranberries, I realized I only had the raisins… I also didn’t have apricot jam to glaze them.
Actually, I had but when I opened the jar, it did the “fizzzzz” , like when you open a bottle of lemonade, so I wisely decided not the use it.

So I changed the apricots into dates, the cranberries into pecan nuts (my ultimate favourite) and the apricot jam into cherry jam.
I didn’t really fancy the icing on the top so I decided to go without it.

At the end, I was really happy I changed the recipe. The nuts give something else to the bun, the cherry jam makes them look so good.
Anyway, here’s the recipe.

For 12 buns, you’ll need:

– 500g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
– 1 tsp salt
– 7g of fast-acting yeast
– 300ml of milk
– 40g of butter, plus extra for greasing the tin
– 1 free-range egg
– 40g of sugar

For the filling:

– 30g of butter
– 75g of sugar
– 2tsp of cinnamon
– 100g of raisins
– 100g of pecans
– 100g of chopped dates

For the glaze:

– 1 tblsp of cherry jam, melted

Start by making the dough with all the ingredients, knead it for 5 to 10 min until elastic and smooth.

Leave it to rise in a warm place, uncovered for 1 hour.

After rising, put the dough back on the worktop, roll it out to get a big rectangle in front of you (about 40cm by 30cm).
Stick the end in front of you to the worktop by pushing it on it, this will make it easier to roll the buns.

Spread the butter on your rectangle, then the sugar and cinnamon and then your fruits and nuts. Press gently on them to make it stick to the dough.

Start to roll out that “sheet” towards you, you have to do it quite tight. You should end up with a big sausage like dough.

Cut that into 12 portions, and lay them on a baking tray, lined with baking paper and buttered. The buns shouldn’t touch each other yet.

Leave it for at least an other hour to rise. After that hour, the buns should start to join.

Bake for 25min, 200°C or until golden brown.

Brush each bun with the warm jam.

Eat warm or cold.

Mylène

White chocolate & vanilla panna cotta with honey roasted figs

For the chocolate week, I have to make something with white chocolate. As I’ve never made panna cotta, I thought it would be nice to try it.

But there was a little problem: it’s usually made with pork or beef gelatine, and I’m a vegetarian.

But that didn’t stop me. I’m too aware of veggie setting agents to let it go like that!!

So I looked in my cupboard to try and find that veggie powder gelatine I bought a couple of months ago.

I followed a recipe found on-line and replaced the gelatine with my vegetarian powder.
I wasn’t that happy with the texture of it, I think I’ve put too much setting agent so it wasn’t wobbly enough to my liking but the taste was really good.
I think the setting agent I used was very strong so I recommend to use half of what it says on the packet.

For 4 pots, you’ll need:

– 500ml of cream
– 150ml of milk
– 100g of white chocolate, chopped
– 60g of sugar
– 1 vanilla pod, scrapped
– 1 tsp of veggie setting agent, or 4 gelatine leaves, soaked

Heat the cream, milk and vanilla together.

When it’s almost boiling, remove from the heat, add all the other ingredients and stir well until everything is well melted.

Pour into individual ramequins and leave it to set for 4 hours.

panna cotta skin with vanilla seeds

You’ll also need:

– 4 figs
– 1 tbsp of honey

Before serving, roast the whole figs in the honey for 5min in a hot oven (200°C).

Take the panna cotta out of their ramequins by running a thin knife around it or run some hot water on the ramequin to make it come out.

Serve the panna cotta with one roasted fig next to it and drizzle with the ‘honey and fig syrup’.

Mylene

Chocolate & chilli bread

For the chocolate week, I wanted to make something savoury with chocolate.

Sadly, most of the dishes I found that use chocolate as savoury weren’t vegetarian, so I thought of bread.

This chilli and chocolate bread can be used as savoury or sweet.
I chopped my chocolate so fine that you don’t get big chunks of it that are really sweet. I also used very dark chocolate.

This bread is not too hot at all, it makes the chilli stand out but doesn’t overpower the whole thing.

For a big loaf, you’ll need:

– 500g of strong flour
– 10g of salt
– 12g of dried yeast
– a splash of olive oil
– 340ml of water
– 1 tsp of flaked dried chilli
– 2 tbsp of very finely chopped chocolate

Put the flour, salt, chillies and yeast into a bowl and mix well.

Add the oil and water and knead for about 10min until smooth and elastic.

Add the chocolate and knead for another 2min.

Put the dough in a floured bowl, cover it with cling film and leave it to raise for an hour.

Put the raised dough on your work top and knead it for a minute to knock the air out.

Shape your bread as desired; I usually make mine plaited.
Put the bread on a baking sheet, cover it with a tea towel and leave for an other hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, egg-wash the bread if you want and cook it for 25min or until golden brown.

Eat toasted with butter, jam, cheese or just as it is.

finished loaf

Mylène

Chocolat chaud Parisien

I really enjoy a good hot chocolate in the evening, when it’s cold and rainy outside.
I usually do my own, with real chocolate but I’ve never tried the really thick rich hot chocolate you see in Paris or in the film ‘le chocolat’.

I was dying to try it so I looked online for some inspiration.
A lot of the recipes I saw were made with cornflour to thicken it up but I thought it was cheating a bit so tried another one.
It needs only 3 ingredients and it’s dead simple.

You can choose the thickness of your hot chocolate by just cooking it for longer.

If you have never tried the real thing, you should do it tonight!!
It’s so rich that I couldn’t finish my cup but do not worry, it’s not fattening at all, it’s just very chocolatey.

For 2 large mugfulls, you’ll need:

– 550ml of wholemilk
– 150g of very good quality chocolate (I don’t like it too strong so I made it 80% dark and 20% milk chocolate)
– half of a vanilla pod, scraped
– 1 dessertspoon of sugar (only if you want to)

Boil the milk with the scraped vanilla pod. Leave it for 10min to infuse.

Take the pod out and whisk the chocolate in until melted.
At this stage, you can choose to serve it as it is but it will be a very thin hot chocolate.

Put it back on the hob, medium heat, and whisk constantly until you get the consistency you want – It can take 5 to 20min.

Serve it as you like, with whipped cream or not.

I personally love it as it is.

Enjoy

Mylene

Chocolate tiffin

For my second chocolate recipe, I chose to make tiffins.

I love chocolate on its own, it’s such a good feeling to bite into a bar of chocolate but things made with chocolate, especially cakes, make me feel a bit sick.

Like all my dad’s family, I have a very slight allergy to cocoa, I sneeze when I eat something very strong in cocoa.

It’s not too bad as I don’t really enjoy the bitterness of a very dark bar of chocolate but you get that bitterness too often in chocolate cakes, mousses, ice cream…

I suppose it’s why I don’t really like them.

So these tiffins…
I made them with very good quality milk chocolate as I didn’t want them to be too high in cocoa content.

For 20 tiffins, you’ll need:

– 400g of biscuits of your choice, crushed (I used ginger biscuits, but I don’t think they worked as well as digestives or shortbreads would have)
– 200g of butter
– 140g of golden syrup
– 150g of mixed roasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts are good)
– 30g of cocoa
– 70g of raisins
– 300g of milk chocolate

Mix the crushed biscuits, nuts, cocoa and raisins together.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together, pour it on the biscuit mixture and mix.

Lay a tin with baking paper and pour the mixture in.
Press it until you have a levelled base for your tiffins.

Chill for at least 1 hour.

Melt your chocolate, pour it on the biscuit base, then wait for the chocolate to set a little bit (20min) and run a knife on it to create paterns.

Enjoy

Mylene

Eclairs au chocolat

As this week is national chocolate week, I’ve decided to post one of my favourite chocolate recipes everyday.

Today is Chocolate eclairs, or éclairs au chocolat.

If by that name, you imagine a long choux pastry filled with whipped cream and topped with chocolate icing, let me tell you, you’re making a big mistake!
The real french éclair is filled with crème pâtissière, flavoured with chocolate, coffee, vanilla… It gives that french touch you’ll never get with cream, so forget about the whipped cream, really.

In my family, we’ve never been great choux pastry lovers. My mum never used to make it so I suppose it’s why I don’t make it very often.

My first attempts weren’t quite right so I decided to try again until I got it perfect. All the recipes I tried didn’t live up to my expectations, so in the end I made a mix of two recipes and it worked perfectly.
In fact it worked so well we are going to sell them locally.

See the product page here

For the filling, I used my favourite crème pâtissière recipe, just with chocolate in.
For the icing, I found a couple of recipes but chose the one I thought would be the most like the one they use in French boulangeries.

Anyway, enough of the talking, here’s the recipe.

For 6 éclairs, you’ll need:

For the filling:

– 2 egg yolks
– 10g of cornflour
– 100g of sugar
– half a liter of milk
– 70g of chocolate, chopped

For the choux pastry:

– 2 eggs,beaten
– 70g of flour
– 60ml of water
– 65ml of milk
– 55g of butter
– 5g of sugar

For the icing:

– 50g of chocolate
– 20g of butter
– 40g of icing sugar
– 1,5 tbsp of water

The filling

Make the filling at least 2 hours before making the pastry.

Boil the milk, meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar together until nearly white.

Carefully pour the milk, a bit at a time, onto the mixture, whisking constantly.
Put the whole thing back on the hob at a low temperature and stir for 2min or until it has thick texture
Put it aside and sprinkle with the chopped chocolate.
Leave it a minute and stir the chocolate, until totally melted.
Leave to cool in the fridge.

The pastry:

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Boil the butter, milk, water and sugar together. Then take the pan off of the hob and stir in the flour.

Put it back on the hob to dry it out, you’ll get a ball of paste.
Take it off the hob again and whisk in a bit of the beaten egg with an electric whisk.
Then add the rest of the eggs a bit at a time. You should get a smooth glossy mixture, not too runny.

Pipe that mixture onto a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Pipe long lines of it.

Put it in the oven to bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven up to 220°C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Take your long choux out of the oven and leave until totally cool.
With a very thin knife, cut into the choux, make a big enough cut for the nozzle of your piping bag to fit in. Fill each one with the chilled crème pâtissière.

The icing

Start the icing by melting the chocolate. When it’s melted, add the butter and icing sugar, your pan still on the hob.
Stir until the butter is totally melted. Put it aside and stir in the water a little at a time.

Wait five minutes and then you can ice your éclairs.

Keep them in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Mylène

Couscous dish

We all have a certain dish or type of food that suddenly reminds us of childhood and mummy’s cooking. A chocolate cake, a rice pudding, a stew… One of mine is a couscous dish.
It’s basically a north African curry.
In France, there is a big north African community because of the old French colonies (like Indian community over here).
It’s not exactly like a curry (the couscous dish is a one and only) as curries are different; made with different types of meat, fish, vegetables, hot or mild…

This North African curry is usually made with 3 types of meat all added together (lamb, chicken and hot sausages) but like we’re vegetarians, I only make it with the vegetables.
After a couple of attempts, mine tastes very close to my mum’s but still there is something different…

What can I say, I can’t compete against the couscous queen!!

Anyway, this is my version.

For a 4 hungry people couscous, you’ll need:

– 1 big onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, crushed
– 1 big carrot, chopped in half an inch slices
– 2 courgettes, roughly chopped
– 2 peppers (any color), chopped
– Half a tin of chickpeas
– One tin of chopped tomatoes
– 1 stock cube
– 1 dessertspoon of ras el hanout (north African blend of spices)
– 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika
– Salt and pepper

Fry the onion in a large saucepan.

After 5 min, add the garlic. When the garlic starts cooking, add the carrot and spices.

Leave it for 3 min then add the chopped tomatoes and the stock cube. Cook with a lid for about 15min then add the other vegetables. If you don’t have enough moisture, just add some water.

Leave it to simmer for a while (30 min).

When your vegetables are cooked, put the chickpeas in. Season to taste, it needs quite a lot of salt.

Put it aside, lid on and wait for 10min before eating.

Serve with couscous (what we call couscous in the UK is actually only the name of the whole dish; we call it couscous semolina in France).

Mylène

A very busy September

I think this year’s month of September has been the busiest ever.
We’re so happy the business is working so well since we came back from France. We had very successful food fairs and festivals, a few wedding bookings….
I also made a tiny cake and some princess decorated biscuits for a very girly birthday party.

We basically had a lot of fun but not much sleep!

For this post, I’ll just put pictures to show you all the things we’ve been doing.

Mylène

Holidays in Brittany

This summer, we went to visit my family in Brittany in the family house I grew up in.
We had such a lovely time all together, the weather wasn’t the best but we made up for it with a lot of time just enjoying the company of each other.

I don’t really have any recipe to share from the holiday, only ideas.

As my little sister and brother love salted caramel, they were jumping around when I told them I could make some just as good as the one they buy at the supermarket, “Before you leave, can you make 1..no 3…no 8 jars of it pleeeease?” they pleaded.

So to make them extra happy I made salted caramel ice cream as my mum has an ice cream machine.

I followed a plain vanilla ice cream recipe and added a portion of salted caramel sauce (you can find the recipe on my last post).

At the last minute some more people arrived to eat with us so my “6 servings” ice cream became a “10 servings”.
To serve my ice cream, I sprinkled some crushed shortbread and put a little curl of chocolate on it.
I think it made all the difference.

Also, we had crêpes made on a special breton pan. Nearly all the older folks in my family make them.
They make it look so easy but when I have a try, it comes out looking more like mangled lace than pancake!

It’s a tradition to have buckwheat pancake batter as a savoury and a slightly sweet wheat batter for sweet.
I’m useless at making Crêpes Bretonnes. To make them properly, you need a lot of practise.
My mum is always saying that I should buy a pan and make them in the UK. I don’t think I’ll be motivated enough to practise regularly but who knows? Maybe one day soon….

Watch this space.

Mylène

Quick & easy salted caramel sauce

I really like caramel, or toffee.
In Brittany, you can find jars of salted caramel sauce that you’ll spread on toast or use in deserts but they’re incredibly expensive. I bought one about 5 years ago but it didn’t last 5 minutes, it was sooooo good, the sort of “delicious” you could never ever be able to make yourself.

Well, now I can say that I was wrong. I made some for a macaron filling, had a teaspoon of it and it took me back 5 years ago, with that little jar.

This sauce is so good, so simple and so quick that you have to try it.

For a little pot of sauce, you’ll need:

– 70g of sugar

– 65g of cream (single or double, it doesn’t matter)

– 20g of butter

Heat the sugar in a pan (on its own). Don’t stir it!

When the sugar takes a nice golden color, pour the cream and stir briskly. There is a big possibility that it’s going to splash so don’t allow any children near you while you’re doing it.
To avoid splashing, you can use a tall pan.

When the mixture stops bubbling, add the butter in little cubes.

While it’s hot, the sauce will be quite runny but when it cools down in the fridge, it will set and have the consistency of set honey.

If you like it more runny, simply add more cream to the recipe.

Enjoy!

Mylène

Elderflower champagne

You’re never going to believe me but the other day, between two big dark rainy clouds, I’ve seen some blue sky. Yes, blue sky, there was even a bit of sun…

I start, like everyone, to feel depressed about this non-summer so I try to cheer up with one of my very summery drinks: elderflower champagne.

I made some about 5 weeks ago, when the first flowers arrived.
It’s the third year in a row I’ve made some. Last year’s was horrible, I have no idea what happened as it was the same recipe. Anyway, I opened a bottle of this year’s champagne and I can’t tell you how good it is! Very fizzy, not too sweet, just right with this lemony flavor and of course, a nice and delicate taste of elderflower!

I give you the recipe for you to try next year, as the season is over now (in the uk anyway)

For 5 bottles, you’ll need:

– 6L of water
– 700g of sugar
– 15 to 20 elderflower heads
– Juice and zest of 4 lemons
– 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

In a big pot (I use a jam pan), dissolve the sugar with the water.
Add the other ingredients and mix well.

Cover the pot with a cloth and leave it for 5 days in a cool and airy place. You can check regularly to see if everything is going well: if you see that the mixture is beginning to change and becoming yeasty and bubbly, it’s a good sign.

If you think your mixture doesn’t behave like it should, add a pinch of dried yeast, it should help a bit.

Sieve and bottle up in preferably strong glass bottles.

Leave it at least 2 weeks before drinking.

You’ll really need good bottles (not with a screwing lid).
Last year, we drove with some big jars (because of a lack of bottles) full of elderflower champagne in the boot and the gas made the glass break! So be careful!

Mylène

Praliné

It’s been a quite exciting last few weeks; we’ve done summer fairs, created new biscuit designs, got a new toy (an air gun to give an edge to my biscuits and macarons), worked a couple of days in a deli (St Giles cheese), been approached by companies to sell our stuff…
Everything is going very well!

I didn’t have much time to try new recipes to share with you but I have that old classic that I’m going to write about: praliné!

It’s something very versatile that I use in a lot of things. It gives a nutty, caramel and vanilla flavour.
I use it in macarons with buttercream, home made chocolates, in ice-creams, chocolate spreads, flavoured crème brûlée, cakes, muffins… It can basically be used in any sweet thing.

It’s very easy to make, the main difficulty is in the grinding as lots of food processors can’t make it right. If you’ve got a fairly new one that can resist ice cubes, it would work fine. If you’ve got a coffee grinder, it’s even better, you just have to make sure you can wash it under the tap afterwards otherwise you’ll hate me forever for that recipe.

For 500g of praliné, you’ll need:

– 250g of sugar
– 250g of roasted hazelnuts (or almonds)
– 1 vanilla pod, scratched

Heat the sugar and vanilla seeds in a pan on their own until it melts and becomes golden.

Never stir the sugar, especially when it’s just starting to melts, you will ruin the caramel.

When you have your caramel, take it off the heat and mix the nuts in.

When they’re all covered in caramel, pour the mixture onto a tray layed with baking paper.
Let it cool down for 2 hours or until cool.

Break the nutty caramel in medium pieces by chopping it. Put everything in your food processor or grinder and grind until it makes a paste or, even better, a liquid mixture.

That step will take you a while, depending on how powerful and tough your equipment is.
Your praliné should now be ready to use! It will keep a while in a jar in the fridge or in the freezer, just take it out when needed and mix the desired amount into your preparations….

Mylene

a macaroon tiramisu

I don’t make proper puddings very often but tiramisu is always a winner with everybody.

I looked up for the original Italian recipe and made it my own. Some people like it very strong in coffee and alcohol. I prefer it more delicate to be able to really taste the subtle mascarpone flavor.

A while ago, I had some amaretti biscuits leftover from an order and used them instead of sponge fingers and the result was so much better. The almond biscuit combined with the amaretto (almond liqueur) gave a great twist to the whole dish. Any homemade biscuits would do, I made it with macaron shells as well.

For about 6 people, you’ll need:

– 4 eggs, white and yolks separated
– 100g of sugar
– 250g of mascarpone
– A paquet of sponge fingers or other light biscuits
– A bowl of strong coffee
– A tablespoon of amaretto
– A dessert spoon of chocolate drink powder
– A tablespoon of cocoa

Make your bowl of coffee and add the amaretto, chocolate drink powder and leave it to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolk and half of the sugar together until light. Add the mascarpone and mix well.

Whisk the egg whites with the rest of the sugar until fluffy and add it to the mascarpone mixture.

Soak the biscuits into the coffee and lay them in a dish. Make sure the biscuits are soaked but not dripping otherwise your tiramisu will be wet and soggy.

Pour half of the egg mixture on the coffee biscuits and make an other layer of them. Pour the rest of the mixture on them.

Put it in the fridge overnight or for minimum 4 hours.

Dust with cocoa before serving. You can make individual tiramisus, a bit more presentable for classy dinner parties.

Mylène

French butter cream that will change your life…

I’ve never been a great fan of butter cream; I thought it was heavy and much too buttery and fatty. I came to England and noticed that the british style butter cream was basically sweet butter mix.

I didn’t like butter cream until I tried a recipe seen in one of my supergreat book. I promise you, It will change your birthday cakes into something really amazing.
The texture is light, fluffy, and you have a really delicate taste of butter… Heaven!

For a dose of butter cream, you’ll need:

– 3 egg yolks

– 75g of sugar

– 30ml of water

– 150g of soft butter

– A vanilla pod, or any flavor you want to give (melted chocolate, raspberry coulis,…)

Heat the sugar and water together, leave it to boil for about 3 min, my original recipe says 5 min but if you overdo it, the sugar is going to ruin your mix, so it’s better to underdo it a tiny bit.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until they’re nearly white.

When the sugar’s ready, pour it slowly on the egg yolks, still whisking. Keep whisking until the mixture cools down. Put the soft butter in the mixture and whisk until you end up with a lovely buttery texture.

Add your flavor and mix!

It takes a tiny bit more time than British butter cream but it is totally worth it. My sister always hated butter cream until she tried mine so trust me and try that wonderful recipe as soon as you can.
I’m maybe a bit too passionate about it but if you want to change your (baking) life, French butter cream will do it for sure!!!!!!!

Mylene

Pain perdu or amazing French toast

If you’ve got a loaf that you forgot in your bread bin since a week which turned out hard and inedible, do not throw it away!! I have the perfect recipe which is going to bring it to life again.

Pain perdu means “lost bread” in French. It’s basically the bread you didn’t eat during the week, which is good to throw in the bin, which is “lost”. There are a few different recipes, each family have their own. It’s such a good recipe for a family snack on lazy Sunday afternoons. Everybody loves it.

For 4 hungry people, you’ll need:

– An old loaf of bread (it works with fresh bread but not as well)
– 4 egg yolks (you can use the whole egg if you don’t know what to do with the left over whites, just whisk them very very well with an electric mixer otherwise you’ll have horrible blobs of egg white in your lovely bread)
– 400ml of warm milk
– 2 tablespoons of sugar (vanilla sugar is best)+ extra to sprinkle your toast after frying
– A knob a butter
– 3 to 5 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Slice your loaf in thick slices. They may be too long, if it’s the case, cut them in half.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together then pour the worm milk and mix.

Put your butter and oil in a frying pan. While your butter is melting, soak your slices of bread in the milk mixture.

If your bread is really hard, you may need to soak it for quite a while. I personally like it not too soaked because there is a risk of it being soggy.

Make sure your bred is soaked but not dripping and fry it in the hot butter and oil.

Turn it over when the side is golden brown.

When the toast are ready, sprinkle with sugar.

Eat warm!

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

French nougat

The other night, I was looking for a recipe I never made before and I found a few recipes of nougat online. I didn’t really know what to expect; I always thought that things like perfect fudge, nougat or caramels were quite impossible to achieve at home but now, I totally changed my mind after making this.

It requires a couple of special ingredients but if you have them in your cupboard, try it! It takes about 20mins of cooking, the result is just stunning. Soft, sweet, honey-like, nutty nougat… Just how I love it!

You’ll need a kitchen robot and a sugar thermometer. The robot isn’t so important, you can still do it with an electric whisk but it will take you a little longer.

For about 60 squares, you’ll need:

– 400g of sugar + 20g
– 100g of glucose powder
– 125g of water
– 250g of honey
– 2 little egg whites (about 50g)
– 2 sheets of rice paper
– 300g of mixed nuts, roasted

Heat the sugar, glucose and water together.

In another pan, heat the honey on its own.

After 5 mins, start to slowly whisk the egg whites in your robot, they must not go too stiff.

When the honey reaches 130°C, pour it gently on the egg whites, still whisking.

When the sugar mixture reaches 148°C, pour it on the egg whites-honey, still whisking. Keep whisking until the mixture has cooled down.

Mix in the nuts.

Put a sheet of rice paper in a 15cm square tin and pour your nougat in. It’s going to be sticky, so you can put water on your hand and just shape it with your hands.

Put the second sheet of rice paper on and leave it over night to cool completely.

Take it out of the tin (can be hard) and cut it as you wish!!

Enjoy!

Mylene

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.

Poached pears

I’ve always seen recipes of poached pears in red wine but never really had the occasion to make any. I don’t usually buy pears. Most of the time, when you buy them in supermarkets, they never go ripe and stay hard for ages.

Anyway, the other day, my mother in law bought (incredibly) large pears and I had the green light to do whatever I wanted with them. I thought about poaching them in red wine but didn’t have any…
I had some cooking white wine so I decided to change the usual recipe and try it with that!

Like I never tried before, I looked up online for a recipe. All the recipes were totally different so I decided to make my own.

The result was quite impressive. It was all looking very posh and delicate. The flavors were quite surprising, like all the alcohol goes away and I used spices, I couldn’t really taste the wine but it was still giving good flavors.

I then found some more pears and did the same with red wine. In England, prices of wine are very high so with my tight budget, I didn’t want to waste most of the bottle on only 4 pears so I’ve made some changes.

For 4 poached pears, you’ll need:

– 4 ripe pears, carefully peeled but with the stalk left on
–  About 250ml of red or white wine (for the proper recipe, use about 600ml)
–  100ml of apple juice (you can use something else, I just had some in the fridge), no juice in the proper recipe
–  3 tablespoons of light brown sugar
–  1 tablespoon of honey
–  1 vanilla pod, cut in half and scraped
–  1 teaspoon of cinnamon
–  1 teaspoon of allspice

Put all the ingredients except the pears in a high sided pan, make sure the liquid is quite high in it, it has to cover more than half of the pears. Simmer it for 5 min and add your pears, stalk up; if they don’t stand properly, just cut a tiny slice at the bottom, it should then stand nicely.

Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 min or until soft and tender. Stab one with a knife to make sure it’s soft in the middle. If your pears weren’t completely in the liquid, turn them around a couple of times to cook them properly.

When they’re cooked, you have two options: take them out of the juice , keep them in a tub, refrigerate them and cook the juice for about 30minutes or until reduced and thickened. Serve when both pears and syrup are chilled.

You can also leave the pears in the juice, put everything to soak overnight in the fridge and reduce the syrup the day after and chill it again.

Personally, I prefer the white wine version, mush sweeter and delicate but the red wine one is brilliant because of the red color of the pear.

Mylène

Mother’s day!!

As you all know, it was mother’s day last Sunday. In France, mother’s day is in June so I didn’t send anything to my mum (I just phoned her to say “happy British mother’s day!!”). Even if I didn’t plan anything for her, I thought about my mother-in-law. I knew that my boyfriend wouldn’t give anything special to her, just a card and a big hug.

Obviously I was wrong because a few days before mother’s day, he asked me to help him make a cake as a present! We had a think about it and decided to make a big version of a fruity macaroon.

We made normal macaroon batter, shaped big shells and cooked them for about 30mins. We then prepared a French style raspberry butter cream and spread it on one of the shell, topped it with mashed strawberries and placed sliced strawberries all around the edges.

My boyfriend’s brother made a starter and a main course so we had a whole meal ready for Sunday evening.

Everything was lovely; the macaroon was just amazing, very fruity, mum in law even had a second slice (but don’t tell anybody)!!

Mylène

My version of the best ever mash

Everybody has already experienced  eating bad mashed potatoes: bland, super-thick and really difficult to finish. I have experienced quite a lot with mash over the years and I think I’ve found the recipe I really enjoy.

You’ll need:

–  A couple of potatoes
–  Butter
–  Milk
–  Crushed  garlic
–  Cheese
–  Nutmeg
–  Salt and pepper

Cook the potatoes in salted water, mash them while still hot and add all the ingredients.

I didn’t give you the exact quantity of each ingredient because it’s totally up to your taste. If you like your mash thick, just half a glass of milk will do; if you like it really rich, you can put quite a lot of butter (really don’t hesitate, it will make a difference) and cheese. Don’t underestimate the power of your seasoning. I think most people are scared with salt and pepper but really, you MUST season enough if you want a good result. Nutmeg is mash’s best friend, it reveals all the flavours; don’t abuse it, just a good pinch would do.

I find that the garlic gives a little kick which is just perfect with potatoes.

When I don’t feel too guilty and that I have left over cream, I use it instead of milk and the difference is actually quite amazing.

The options are endless, you can add parsnip or sweet potatoes, egg yolk, goat cheese…

It only takes you 2 minutes to transform an old boring mash into something delicious so don’t hesitate.

Mylène