No-bake Chocolate cheesecake

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

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

For 1 medium cheesecake, you’ll need:

For the base:

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

For the filling:

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

Ganache topping (optional):

-150g of chocolate
-150g of double cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

Mylène

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Amaretti biscuits recipe

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

For about 20 biscuits:

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

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

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

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

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

Bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy!

Mylène

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DIY Gift: Festive mini-meringues

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It’s that time of year again… The time when we’re all trying to find original gifts before Christmas. Instead of giving someone yet another box of chocolates, making your own gift is going to be cheaper and also so much more appreciated.

These meringues make a great little treat bag, use a fancy label and some twine or raffia to tie them with and they’ll really look the part.

For approximately 40 mini meringues

– 70g of egg whites (about 2 egg whites)
– 70g of caster or granulated sugar
– 70g of icing sugar
– flavours to your choice (peppermint extract, chocolate, spices, citrus, nuts…)
– food colouring (optional)

Preheat your oven at 100C.

Whisk the egg white and slowly add your regular sugar.
Whisk until firm and until all the sugar has desolved.

Sieve the icing sugar and add it to the egg white mixture. Gently fold until well combined.

Divide your mixture into as many parts as you want different flavours.

Try not to overload your mixture, a little flavouring goes a long way.
You can use freeze dried fruit powders and natural extract to give a strong flavour to your meringues.
You can add zest but make sure not to put too much in.

Do not add melted chocolate or watery ingredients (juices,…) to your mixture, it will not work out.

If you want to flavour them with chocolate, use a bit of cocoa powder or dip them in chocolate once baked.
You can add finely chopped nuts but not too much, it’s better to sprinkle them with nuts once they are piped.

Once you’ve decided which flavours you want add them to your mixture and fold in.

If you are using food colouring, one nice effect is to make a colourful line in your piping bag using gel paste colouring and a paintbrush and brush a line or two along the length of the piping bag.

Transfer the meringue mixture into a piping bag. You can use a nozzle but it’s optional.

Pipe the meringues on trays lined with baking paper. Pipe them however small or big you want them, they shouldn’t expand too much during baking so you can space them fairly tight.

Put the trays in the preheated oven. Meringues are very fussy with oven temperatures, if your oven is known for being hotter than it says, leave it a tiny bit open (use a wooden spoon in the door so the oven won’t shut properly). If the meringues start to crack, lower your oven temperature immediately. If you know your oven is too hot and that the meringues crack every time, don’t worry, they’ll still look gorgeous, they’ll just be a little bit more home made looking.

Leave the meringues to bake for 30-40 min or until you can pick one up and no traces of unbaked meringue are left on the tray. They should be crisp to the touch and handle a poke with a fingernail without cracking (I know, very scientific…). They’ll be lovely and soft inside. If you want them crisp all the way, they’ll need an extra 15 min of baking.

Leave them to cool down completely before devouring or wrapping!

Mylène

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Frozen yoghurt recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For 2.5 tubs:

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

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

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

Add the fruit purée and stir until well combined.

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

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

Pecan biscuits

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

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

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

The pecan biscuits recipe:

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

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

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

Refrigirate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven at 170C.

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

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

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

Wait until cool before eating.

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

Mylène

Which kind of vanilla to use in your recipe

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

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

Vanilla extract

extract

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

Vanilla paste

paste

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

Vanilla powder

powder

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

Vanilla sugar

sugar

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

Vanilla pod

vanilla

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

Mylène

Italian meringue macarons

For the first time, I’m going to share a macaron recipe.

It’s been about 2 years since I’ve been able to create good macarons but it hasn’t always been that way.
I rarely use this recipe as I prefer french meringue macarons.

To explain quickly, french meringue macarons are made with egg white whisked with a small amount of sugar to obtain a light but stiff base to then incorporate some icing sugar and ground almonds.
The italian meringue macarons are made by mixing half of the egg white (non whisked) with icing sugar and ground almonds and whisking the other half of the egg whites with hot sugar syrup to make a very stiff, heavy meringue which is then mixed with the almond paste.

Both recipes contain roughly the same amount of ingredients, only the actual method is different.

They also look and taste slightly different: The italian one looks matt and very rounded, with a small “foot” and is fragile and cakey.
The french one looks shiny, with a large foot. They have a slight crunch on the outside and should be chewy inside.

If you’re not a macaron crazy like I am, you may not tell the difference between the two but to me, this is important business.

Here is the recipe and some tips to creating the italian version to perfection.

For about 50 macarons, you’ll need:

– 200g of icing sugar
– 200g of ground almonds
– 2 x 80g of egg whites (4 large egg whites)
– 200g of sugar
– 80ml of water
– food colouring

First, you’ll need to grind the icing sugar and ground almonds together until you get a very thin powder, this will ensure your shells are smooth.
You can do it in a food processor but the almonds will certainly not be fine enough. I use a coffee grinder and it’s perfect. Sieve the powder that you get from doing this.

Heat the sugar and water together and let it reach 110°C.
For this step, it’s highly recommended to use a candy thermometer. If you don’t have one, count 4 minutes from boiling and you should get it right.
Just before your sugar reaches 110°C, start whisking half of your egg whites. Don’t whisk the egg whites until they’re firm otherwise the hot syrup will break them.
Add the sugar syrup, still whisking. Keep going until the meringue is cool.
I recommend using a kitchen robot because it will take a while to cool down.

Meanwhile, add the other half of the egg whites to your powders (almonds & icing sugar) and mix until you get a thick paste. You can colour the mix right now with the colour of your choice.

Always go darker than the shade you want as the meringure will lighten it up a lot.
I recommend using powder colours as they are much stronger than paste or liquid colours. The alternative is to add your colour to the meringue instead.

Fold a bit of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it up a bit and then fold in the rest of the meringue.

This stage is the trickiest one: when to stop folding. You may have to fold the mixture for a while before getting the perfect consistency. You don’t want an under-mixed batter as it will form peaks and look rough and you don’t want an over-mixed batter as it will be impossible to pipe and never hold it’s shape as a circle.

The batter needs to be runny but not liquid.
If you take a spoonful of mixture, pour it on you worktop, leave it for 1 minutes, you’ll see how it behaves.

Line baking trays with baking paper, fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe your macarons, this requires practise!

Hit the bottom of the tray to bash the extra air out of the mixture and leave in your dryest room.
If you leave them in your kitchen, they’ll never dry because of the damp air.
This stage may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the weather and the temperature.

When you can very gently touch your macarons without the batter sticking to your finger, they’re ready to go in the oven. 140°C for about 20 minutes.

If you have a gas oven, it will be harder to get perfect macarons as the temperature is usually harder to control than an electric oven.

Take them out after 20 minutes and leave to cool completely before filling them with buttercream, jam, lemon curd, chocolate ganache….

Hope you enjoy the recipe

Mylène

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

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

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

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

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

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