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

My version of the best ever mash

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

You’ll need:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mylène

Banoffee pie

A massive classic over here, the banoffee pie is absolutely unknown in France. I never had the occasion to taste it or to make it so it was time for me to have a go!

I found a recipe which looked great and mouth watering and added my own touch. Instead of making a big pie, I decided to make 6 little ones mainly because we are only 3 living at home for the moment and I didn’t want to stuff myself with banoffee pie; I have to be presentable in my Christmas dress!!

I made my own pastry which is much longer to do but much more delicious as well.

You’ll need:

–  Shortcrust pastry , baked blind
–  2 bananas
–  2 tablespoons of sugar
–  50ml of milk
–  150ml of double cream
–  Half a teaspoon of instant coffee, diluted in a tablespoon of hot water
–  Vanilla extract or vanilla pod
–  Dark chocolate curls

First, put the sugar in a pan (don’t use a non stick one, in just ruined mine because of this recipe) and wait until the sugar melts and makes a caramel. Don’t stir it at all.

Mash one of the bananas with the milk and when the sugar has dissolved, pour the banana mixture into it until you have a nice banana caramel. Pour this caramel into the pastry. Let it cool down for half an hour or more.

When the caramel is cooled, cut the other banana into slices and arrange them on the caramel.

Whisk the double cream until stiff with some vanilla. Add the coffee (you can always add the half if it’s too strong) and mix it up. Put some cream on each pie and sprinkle with chocolate curls!

Ready!!!!

Mylène