Friday, 28 February 2014

Goat's Milk Dulce De Leche Oreo Banoffee Tarts With Coconut Whipped Cream

On Sunday we sat down, scrolled through our Virgin Media Netflix and finally decided upon watching Armageddon. You know, that film with Bruce Willis running around all hot and angry whilst his daughter secretly kisses range boy Ben Affleck in his bed and Willis threatens to kill him. In the end, ol’ sexy Willis takes a lift down to the core of some meteorite and blows himself up, I think this was his way of giving his blessing, finally letting his daughter kiss Affleck till death do them part. His suicide act saves the world as well by the way, it’s beautiful, and anyone with eyes is capable of crying at this film. 
Unfortunately there is no hidden meaning behind my terrible synopsis and what’s going on in my life right now, I just thought I’d tell you about a film that’s been playing on my mind all week. Hopefully I can stop having visions of Willis now, please god.
Earlier that day, I baked the healthiest cookies - they contained no flour, no sugar, and zilch eggs! Just maple sweetness and oat flour, and a few hundred calories from the rich macadamias and chips of white chocolate, and they were nearly all eaten by the time we sat down to scroll through the endless list of films on the ol’ Netflix.
Naturally, this is the bit where I carry on telling you about how good these cookies were, and below there would be the recipe for them. And yes, they were really delicious, but they were also pretty damn ugly and so flat, that when you picked them up they fell to pieces and the macadamias looked like overgrown warts about to pop on a witch’s face. No camera angle or £14 dishcloth could do them justice, so I’m sharing our dessert from the previous Saturday instead, whilst I work on a solution to make these coconut oil laden discs more plump and cookie-esque, like The Flourishing Foodie's Maple Pecan Cookies.
These tarts are filled with a labour of love: homemade dulce de leche made with goats milk, inspired by Smitten Kitchen. It tasted so goaty I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle it (different brands have different goat tasting levels! I obviously went for the most potent), but then I blended a banana in and it softened the goaty edge. And if the butter to biscuit ratio in the base looks a little frightening,  its there to help you get over the fact that goats milk tastes like farm. Of course, you could just use cows milk, but as Smitten says - goat’s milk adds a complexity to dulce de leche which cows milk is not capable of.

Read on to get the recipe

Friday, 21 February 2014

How To Make Chocolate, Plain & Almond Croissants {Step By Step}

If it were perfectly feasible (for the hips and tum) to eat a buttery pastry every morning, I doubt you’d ever get sick of it. For that, I sincerely hope that you wont get sick of the sight of croissants by the time you reach the bottom of this never ending post!
I’ve read about how difficult it can be to successfully make a batch of these yeasted breakfast beauts, and how it could take a few tries before getting them where you want them, in terms of how many intricate layers each croissant has and achieving a formidable balance of flakiness and crispiness. 

After eight hours in the kitchen, I’ve discovered that all it really takes is some patience, and possibly a freezer. Make that 24 hours if you’re not using the freezer (please put your dough in the freezer). 
Once you’ve mastered the skills required to make croissants i.e. shaping dough so that it looks like a book 3 times and then rolling it into a pretty shape with the glide of one hand, the fillings actually lend themselves as the trickiest component.

Seriously, which percentage chocolate should I fill my croissant with? 

Marzipan or almond paste? 

RASPBERRY OR FIG JAM?!

I do not regret cramming this all into one overly loooooooong blog post, nope. 
My morning breakfast consists of a small skinny cappuccino from the in-house Costa at university. I made all 18 the recipe yields thinking: “I can finally incorporate large amounts of fat into my morning routine and cant wait to show off my new non moody morning self all thanks to my new - week long - breakfast routine!” 

Somehow, three days after croissant baking day, I managed to sneak just one off to uni, what a pile of nonsense. 
Sooo, we’re about to make the best croissants ever with a little (BIG) help from Thomas Keller, and we’re using Sainsbury’s Basic’s butter and flour, because who says you need optimum quality for optimum croissants? Here’s a hint: bakers with pockets full of money and no sense. 
Are you ready?

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Chocolate Coated Lavender Caramels


Today, I am guest posting for one of my favourite ever (quite literally) food sites, Food 52, woohoo! 

Chocolate coated (that’s right) lavender (that’s right again, I perfumed up some melting sugar) CARAMELS. 
If you’ve managed to mentally block the cringiest holiday alive gracing us with its eary stomach churning love-scented presence this Friday, then please, ignore my heart shaped caramels. 

Or don’t. Because the caramels taste toooo damn gooooood.  
The recipe for these buttery beauts can be found in Food52’s Small Batch column, which they asked me to write a recipe for. What followed was an overly excitable reply with far too many exclamation marks within. Enough for them to question what they just got themselves in for. I'm still secretly embarrassed. Openly embarrassed now. Its fine, really. 
Caramels are one of the easiest confections to get to grips with, you can make them with just a few cupboard ingredients and they’ll take up just a smidge of your weekday schedule before THE BIG DAY. 

You can omit the chocolate coating, but how are you going to stick lavender garnish in the center of your hearts if you do that? 

Exactly. 
Happy Valz Day for Friday!
Love Em xx

Friday, 7 February 2014

Five Minutes With Emma Gardner from Poires au Chocolat

Photograph by Stephanie Shuh from the lovely Desserts for Breakfast blog.
Way back before blogging positively engulfed my life, I remember my older and wiser sister asking if I’d heard of the food blog, Poires Au Chocolat. I hadn’t, so I immediately started nosing (as you do when big sisters suggest things, I find that they tend to always be the best suggestions) and drooling and reading all the wonderful things that Emma had to say about brown butter and coconut milk ganache. Not long after, I half-heartedly joined the blogosphere without the foggiest clue of how to do things “right.” 

 As I started learning more from Emma I noticed that she was my biggest inspiration, and still is! So this is why this weeks post appears a little different albeit SO appropriate (why didn’t I think of this sooner?). Emma kindly agreed to let me interview her; she helped me carve my own blogging identity/style that helped me grow as a food blogger. In terms of how to do things the right way as a food blogger, of course, that question always goes unanswered, but hopefully this little interview will give you some idea of the best path to take. 

If you hadn’t heard of Poires Au Chocolat until now, I've given my all time favourite recipes in pictures with a link to the recipe in the caption. This girl tests her recipes three times before they make it to PAC. That, along with her honest and stunning photography is, in my opinion, exactly how to do this food blogging thing the right way.
Toscakaka {Caramel Almond Cake}
When you’re not testing recipes and writing posts for PAC, what are you doing?

For the past year or so I’ve been combining my food work with tutoring (mainly literature but also other things). A big change is coming up, though…

One of the most unique things about PAC is that you include some history behind the recipe in your posts (and lovely photos!). Can you tell us a little bit about why you do this?

I didn’t start out thinking about history. It’s crept in over the years. I like setting the recipe in context, which might be history but is also often literature, a story, a bit more about the technique or some science. My posts tend to chart where my reading has taken me - the meanders and detours are so often the most interesting bits. 

Have you ever tried a recipe from a book only to find that it completely failed, how much does this annoy you?

Oh yes. Many, many times. From book, blogs, websites and every other recipe source. There are very few people I trust to write recipes that always work the first time. 

Which of your recipes have you tested to death that you’re most proud of?

I decided at the beginning of last year to personally test all of my recipes a minimum of three times in the weeks preceding my post (before that the number of tests would vary). I’m particularly proud of all of the recipes I’ve written since then.  

What is the most enjoyable part of putting a blog post together for PAC?

It’s hard to pick. The least enjoyable bit is the final few hours of editing when everything is done but it’s just not quite right. Obviously the eating part is fun and I love the research stage and the satisfaction of the post going out and people making the recipe. 

Where do you go to find new recipes and what inspires them?

 These days I tend to start with an idea and then work forwards from that - often looking at a few books for reference - and testing till I’m happy. I often take components or basics from other recipes I’ve written and adapt them to fit the idea. 

What advice would you give for someone who has just started a food blog?

Work out your own rules by practicing, experimenting and observing. What do you like about your favourite blogs? Which posts do you like and which turn you off? What is important to you as a reader? What are your strengths? Keep editing, polishing and pushing forwards. Reach out to other bloggers and make friends. Try not to spend your time and energy worrying about numbers, success or other people - concentrate on what you do and doing it well. It is hard work, though not everyone will acknowledge that. But if you love it? It's worth every single moment. 

Do you remember the first blog you ever read?

 My introduction to food blogs was The Times list of 50 best food blogs back in 2009 - the first four I fell for that day were Orangette, Tea & Cookies, Smitten Kitchen and Tartelette. 

Favourite foodie film or book?

Difficult. A book that changed the way I thought about food writing a few years ago was Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. I’m also a big fan of Bee Wilson’s books and David Lebovitz’s recipes. The Oxford Companion to Food and McGee on Food and Cooking never leave my desk. 

Which blogger would you most like to sit with for dinner?

I love going for dinner with Kate (the little loaf) and Kathryn (London Bakes). That's two, sorry! 
Coconut Milk Chocolate Cake
Caramelised White Chocolate Eclairs 
Salted Caramel Brownies
Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie
With thanks to Emma Gardner 

Love Em xx
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