Monday, 29 March 2010

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

I'm all for spending the weekend in the kitchen, trying out new and delicious recipes, which take time and energy. I love experimenting with more complicated dishes, (I think I get that from my Dad, he once found a recipe which required pretty much every single utensil, pot, pan and dish in the kitchen which is no mean feat considering how well equiped his kitchen is!!) but sometimes it's nice to find a recipe that requires minimum effort and produces delicious results. This is that recipe. I have honestly never made anything so simple in the hundreds of collective hours I've spent in the kitchen, and they're beautiful!! And just to add to the brilliance, no one would ever guess how easy they are!!

This is a Rachel Allen recipe, which is in her Home Cooking book. I've tried her dishes before, and I've never been disappointed, and this is another successful recipe. You throw lightly beaten egg white (just enough to 'break' or loosen it), desiccated coconut and caster sugar in a bowl, then with damp hands, mould into balls and bake for 10 minutes or so, or until golden.

Coconut Macaroons
100g desiccated coconut

75g caster sugar
1 egg white

(The one missing in the top right hand corner is because I was impatient...they smelled so wonderful and I couldn't wait to try one!!)

They need to be left on the tray to cool, as they're so delicate they will fall apart if you try to peel them off when warm. While they are cooling, melt some dark chocolate, then dip the macaroons in the chocolate and leave to set on a cling filmed surface - this makes it so easy to peel away when they're set.

I love the way these look - the contrast between the rich dark chocolate, the golden outer casing and the snowy white inside, and when you take a bite the dark chocolate compliments the sweet coconut mix beautifully.
These keep well in an air tight container, and are a delicious treat to have to hand, try them out when you have a spare twenty minutes!!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Cupcake City

I know, I know, more cupcakes. But really, who doesn't like cupcakes? And when have there ever been too many cupcake recipes to drool over? I for one can't get enough of these little gems, I think they're perfect for so many occasions, and are often prettier and more fun than an entire cake. So here's a couple more recipes, just for the hell of it!

This weekend I went on a bit of a cupcake bender...I decided that the best way to spend my Sunday was baking enough cupcakes to feed a sugar deficient army. And it was a fine way to spend a few hours!! I had a couple of birthdays to provide cakey goodness for, which is why I was baking in the first place, and I decided to make a selection of flavours to keep everyone happy! We had vanilla and raspberry sponge with white chocolate butter icing, dark chocolate sponge with white chocolate butter icing, and chocolate orange sponge with dark chocolate plenty to choose from, and plenty of chocolate!

All the cupcakes I made were from the Primrose Hill Bakery cookbook, which I love for the sheer volume of cupcake recipes it provides, as well as the lovely flavour combinations and more interesting and different flavours they suggest. The first lot which where iced with pastel coloured white chocolate icing were vanilla sponge with raspberry jam, which I've made before and were a real winner with everyone around! I also made a plain chocolate sponge cupcake with the same icing, which was lovely and light. The recipe is a little different to the usual cake mix, and a touch more effort, but definitely worth it, they are as light as air - which makes one feel a little less guilty when eating them...well I do anyway!!

Chocolate Sponge

115g dark chocolate
85g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
2 eggs separated
185g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch salt
250ml milk

Melt the chocolate, and leave aside to cool slightly.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
In a separate bowl whisk the yolks for a few minutes, then add to the butter and beat, before adding the chocolate and beating.

Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl, and add to the the mix a third at a time, alternating with a third of the milk at a time, until it is all incorporated.
With clean attachments, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, before gently folding into the mix, careful not to beat the air out.
Divide into cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
Ice with a batch of white chocolate buttercream, any colour you fancy!

The next batch were chocolate orange sponge with dark chocolate icing that really packs a punch!!

Chocolate Orange Sponge

115g dark chocolate
175g golden caster sugar
90g unsalted butter
zest and juice 1 orange - you need 75ml juice
2 eggs
185g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tblsp milk

Melt the chocolate, and leave aside to cool slightly.
Cream the butter, sugar and zest until pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs, then the chocolate.
Combine the flour, bicarb, baking powder, salt in a bowl, and the juice and milk in a separate jug.
Add the flour mix and milk mix alternately, a third at a time, until it is all incorporated. I actually added a little more orange juice here, but this is up to your personal taste.
Divide into cupcake cases and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Then top with dark chocolate buttercream generously. I've found that it's really worthwhile taking an extra couple of minutes beating the buttercream, it makes for a deliciously silky smooth icing, which also looks wonderfully glossy and luxurious. I topped them with smarties for a splash of colour, but you can decorate them with whatever you like, and then enjoy!