DIY Gift: Festive mini-meringues

Video link

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

Video link

Bakewell Tart

Video link

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

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

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

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

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

Preheat oven at 180 degrees.

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

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

Leave to cool completely or eat it slightly warm.

Video link

Mylène

Frozen yoghurt recipe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For 2.5 tubs:

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

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

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

Add the fruit purée and stir until well combined.

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

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

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

Pâte sablée

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

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

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

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

Tip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

banoffee pie

Mylène

How to make a good sorbet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– 2 to 3 tablespoons of a fruity alcohol

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

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

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

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

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

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

sorbet with mint

Mylène

Homemade maltesers

A few months ago, I was looking on the internet for homemade maltersers, I couldn’t find any decent recipes, they all had weird ingredients in and really looked horrid.
It sounds pretty impossible to achieve homemade maltesers as the crunchy middle bit is made industrially and doesn’t seem possible for home cooking, so I was wondering how I could make them.
I nearly dropped the idea when suddenly, out of nowhere, in about 2 seconds, I knew exactly what to do. I think it’s the first time it happened to me, I decided to call it a “food revelation”… Seriously.

My idea was to make tiny little meringues flavoured with malt extract and to cover them with milk chocolate. I know that it sounds really really simple but I haven’t seen it anywhere so I guess it’s too simple for people to think about it.

The finished product is really similar to maltesers, apart from the shape, I just couldn’t get a perfectly round meringue, but I tried my best.

For A LOT of maltesers (but trust me, they go very fast), you’ll need:

– 70g of egg whites (about 2)
– 70g of granulated or caster sugar
– 70g of icing sugar
– 1 tbsp of malt extract
– 200g of good milk chocolate

Whisk the egg whites and as they start to go fluffy, gradually add the granulated sugar.

Keep whisking until firm and glossy. Then add the malt extract, still whisking.

Seive the icing sugar and fold it gently in your meringue. I would usually add a tiny bit of vinegar to make it nice and gooey in the middle but for this recipe, I want a very crispy meringue all the way.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and pipe tiny little meringues. Make them really small, as once coated with chocolate, they’ll be much bigger.

Put in a oven at 100C. Take them out 1 hour after and let them cool down.

Slowly melt your chocolate and pour it in a tall container like a thin mug or a long glass. This will help you dip the meringues easily.

Take a toothpick and stab the flat bit of you meringue, be delicate with it or it will break. Dip it in the chocolate and let it dry on a tray.
You may need more chocolate, depending on its texture.

I recommend coating them the same day as you bake them as they can get soft after a few hours. The chocolate will make the meringue airtight and stop it from getting soft.

Et voila, enjoy!

Mylène

Lemon cookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For 25 chewy lemon biscuits you’ll need:

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

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.

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

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

Cook at 180°C for about 10 minutes.

Leave to cool down and enjoy!

Mylène

Sesame bars

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

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

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

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

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

For about 20 bars, you’ll need:

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

Gently heat the golden syrup in a pan.

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

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

Bake for 25min at 180C until golden.

Cut while warm as it will get hard when cooled.

sesame bars

Mylène

Millefeuille

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

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

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

For a dozen millefeilles, you’ll need:

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

Preheat the oven at 180C.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the icing:

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

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

Next, you need to be quick!

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

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

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

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

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

Mylène

A really good vanilla custard

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

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

custard_mix

Home-made custard is simple and 100 times better.

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

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

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

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

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

Heat the milk and vanilla together.

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

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

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

It will get thicker when it cools.

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

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

Mylène

Chocolate biscuits / cookies

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

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

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

For 30 biscuits, you’ll need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preheat the oven at 180C.

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

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

Eat cold.

chocolate biscuits

Mylène

Honey-roasted nuts

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

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

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

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

nuts

You’ll need:

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

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

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

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

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

Put the tray back in the oven for 6min.

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

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

Toss them in sugar while hot and eat cold.

Mylène

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

(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

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

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

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