⎯ Live⋅Love⋅Laugh ⎯

Vegan Brownies.
Although I am not a vegan, I decided to experiment with a vegan brownie recipe. To my surprise, they were almost no different to a regular brownie! If anything- I think I prefer the texture and flavour of these! I can’t emphasise enough the simplicity of this recipe, it’s literally an ‘all in one’ recipe, mixed with a spoon. Go on, give it a try :) Recipe below, enjoy!

How to make Vegan Brownies.

This recipe is so simple, all you need is a spoon, a bowl and a baking tray/silicone mould. It’s so quick to make, you can have these chewy brownies with your cup of tea within the hour!

First, pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees. In a large bowl, weigh out all the dry ingredients- 110g plain flour, ½tsp baking powder, 40g caster sugar, 40g muscovado sugar and 90g cocoa powder. I added 90g chopped walnuts to this recipe- however this is optional. Keep the nuts separate until the end.

In another bowl or jug, weigh 30g soy milk, 120g vegetable oil and 120g maple syrup. Give this a whisk to combine.

To combine, add the liquid into the dry in three stages, as shown in the pictures. Mix the nuts once all combined, and the mix is ready to be baked! I decided to bake them in silicone muffin moulds- it saves me from cutting them later! But if you’d like to bake them on a baking tray, make sure to line it with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25minutes. Enjoy them warm from the oven, or deliciously chewy once cooled. 

Paris-Brest.
I’m back! I was recently in a competition (the reason for the lack of blogging- I’m sorry!) and had to make this classic dessert, the Paris-Brest. It’s so delicious- the light and crisp choux compliments the fluffy, silky praline mousseline. It’s seriously mouthwatering. It’s a great recipe, thoroughly tried and tested. Just follow my recipe and you will also be able to enjoy this delight. Recipe below, enjoy! 

How to make Pate a Choux

This recipe can be used to make eclairs, profiteroles and any other recipes which requires choux. Making choux pastry can be difficult for beginners- but don’t let it stop you! Conquer your baking fears by following my simple recipe :)

Before you start, you will need to pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees.

The first step is to make the paste. In a small pan add 140ml water, 55g unsalted butter and a pinch of salt and sugar. Bring this to a light boil only until the butter melts. At this stage, take it off the heat and add 112g plain flour. Using a rubber spatula, mix the ingredients together until it forms a dough. Place the pan back onto a medium heat and cook the dough, making sure to keep it moving for 5 minutes. Once cooked, place in a bowl. I used a free-standing mixer but this can also be done by hand. 

Using a paddle attachment (if making by hand, using the same rubber spatula), mix the dough in the bowl for a few minutes, releasing some of the steam. In a jug, beat 4 eggs. Only adding approximately a tablespoon at a time, add the beaten egg into the dough, making sure it is thoroughly incorporated. Continue to add the egg until it reaches the Duck’s Beak stage, where it hangs off your spatula as shown in the picture. The mix should not be runny, nor should it be dough-like. Now the choux mix is ready for piping.

The choux is very sensitive in the way it is piped. To try and control this, I used a large open star nozzle. However a plain nozzle can also be used. I greased my tray before placing the baking parchment- this stops the paper from flapping or flying in the oven. I would recommend doing this even if you are not using a fan oven. Pipe a ring confidently (believe in yourself!) without hesitation. If you are not happy with the piping, scrape off and start again using a new sheet of parchment paper. Place a small ramekin of water in the oven (Make sure it’s ovenproof!) and place in the oven with your choux for 40-50 minutes until golden.

Do not be tempted to open your oven! The small amount of water will evaporate to create steam, which will help the choux to rise better. The oven must remain closed for it’s entire bake- otherwise the choux may deflate!

 

How to make Praline Mousseline 

Mousseline is a very classic filling for cakes, choux, and many other pastries. Simply put- it’s creme patissier whipped with butter, to create this beautiful fluffy silky mousse. It’s a great recipe because once you grasp the basics, you can tweak it to make a different flavour. There are two stages to this recipe- first the praline paste, (again, this can be utilised in other recipes) and then the mousseline. 

First, the creme patissier must be made. Using my previous recipe as a guide, make the creme patissier using 375ml whole milk, ½ vanilla pod, 90g sugar, 100g egg yolk (5 Yolks) and 30g corn flour. Once cooked, place in the fridge to cool completely. 

To make the praline, you only need 2 ingredients- hazelnuts and icing sugar. To make it even easier- you need the same quantity of each. Firstly, roast 200g whole hazelnuts in the oven at 145 degrees. Keep moving them around every 5 minutes to allow an even roast. Once golden, leave them to cool. Using a spice blender, or a small blender, place the roasted hazelnuts and 200g icing sugar and blitz. The photographs will show the different stages of this. It will start to look dry, but as you continue to blitz the natural oils in the nuts will be released, resulting in a paste. Continue for approximately 5 minutes until it reaches a runny consistency. 

Place the cooled creme patissier in a bowl, and using an electric whisk, whip it until smooth. Add 160g of the praline paste and whip further. At this stage, add 400g room temperature butter (I know it’s a lot, but trust me, it’s going to taste amazing!) and whip for approximately 5 minutes until light and fluffy. 

To assemble the Paris-Brest, cut the choux in half horizontally and pipe the mousseline. Place the top half on top. This can also be finished with a dusting of icing sugar. 

My First Wedding Cake. Chocolate sponge with Dark chocolate ganache.
Tart Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream!
Tart Tatin- Mama’s favourite ;) Happy Mothers Day to all the yummy Mummies! XXX
Brioche- with Custard and Chocolate.
One of my absolutely favourite smell, is the smell of freshly baked brioche. It’s that calm feeling you get when you smell freshly baked bread, but brioche is different. It’s richer, its buttery, it’s comforting. I can’t get enough! This recipe is a great way to expand on how to bake with brioche dough. By adding a sweet filling of custard and chocolate, it’s a great afternoon treat with a cup of tea, or a naughty breakfast on a weekend. The dough also holds well in the freezer, so why not have them ready, all you have to do is pop them in the oven! Recipe below, enjoy! 

How to make Chocolate and Custard Brioche Rolls.

To make the dough itself is rather easy- so I decided not to have a step-by-step photo to explain. Firstly weigh 120g butter and set aside to become room temperature. Weigh into a mixing bowl 263g plain flour, 30g caster sugar and 5g salt. Roughly mix the dry ingredients together. Once combined, weigh 6g instant yeast into the dry mix. In a measuring jug, weigh 132g eggs (crack approximately 4 eggs, whisk together and pass through a sieve before weighing.) and 45g whole milk. Using an electric mixer and a dough hook, slowly add the liquid into the dry ingredients on a slow speed. Once the all the liquid has been added, increase the speed to medium, allowing the dough to be kneaded. After 5 minutes on the machine, add the room temperature butter and continue on medium speed for a further 5 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, (it will have a sticky consistency) covering it with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours. The first photo above was taken at this stage. 

Once chilled, it is easier to handle. Lightly dust the worktop with flour and roll the dough into a square, approximately 0.5cm thick. Once rolled, place on a baking sheet and place back in the fridge.

I used a simple creme patissier recipe. Bring to the boil 200g whole milk with one vanilla pod. In a separate bowl, weigh 50g caster sugar and whisk them with 3 egg yolks. Once combined, add 20g plain flour. Pour the hot milk onto the mix, whisking thoroughly making sure not to have any lumps. Remove the vanilla pod, and pour back into the pan and bring to the boil, making sure to be whisking constantly. When cooked, it should have a glossy, thick finish. Allow the creme patissier to cool before using onto the dough. I decided to pipe the creme patissier, which made it easier to spread onto the dough. Chop 100g dark chocolate and sprinkle onto the creme patissier. 

To roll the dough, it is important to make sure there are no gaps or air bubbles- this will become more visible once the dough has proved. Once rolled, I cling filmed the dough and placed it back in the fridge for 2 hours. This will make it easier to cut the dough later on. Once chilled, cut the dough using a sharp knife, approximately 2cm thick. (If you’d like to freeze some, I would recommend to freeze then now!) Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and allow it to prove. The proving time depends on the room temperature- I left mine for approximately 3 hours at room temperature. However- in a warm environment such as an airing cupboard, may take less time to prove. Once proved, I brushed them individually with egg wash to give it a golden, shiny finish once baked. Place in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Happy Birthday Aya! 

It was my darling Sister’s birthday on Christmas Day, so I wanted to make a cake tailored to her favourite flavours- chocolate and amaretti. Using this as a starting point, I decided to add orange, which compliments both chocolate and amaretto. 

The cake consisted of Dacquiose, a hazelnut based sponge, chocolate mousse infused with orange and Disaronno, finished with homemade Amaretti cookies and flakes almonds. All the components to the cake are quite simple and easy to make, but when put together it creates a beautiful and elegant cake. (just like Aya!) Recipes below, enjoy!

How to make Dacquoise Sponge.

Start by weighing 160g icing sugar, 100g ground hazelnuts, 50g ground almonds and 40g plain flour (Gluten free flour can be used) and place into a food processor to create a finer texture.

To make the French meringue, place 180g egg whites (approximately 5 eggs) into a clean bowl and whisk until foamy. Slowly add 60g sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add the dry ingredients into the meringue in 2 stages, making sure not to knock out any air. 

Place the mixture into a lined cake tin and place in a pre-heated oven at 165 degrees for 12 minutes.

How to make Chocolate Mousse.

This recipe can be used to make a very simple Chocolate Mousse, served on its own. It can be poured into individual glasses and served as a dessert, or used as part of a cake. This recipe uses an Anglaise base, which gives it a lovely creamy texture.

First, melt 400g dark chocolate. (Milk chocolate can be substituted, but if you’d like to use white chocolate weigh 450g.) Set aside. Place 8g gelatine in cold water and set aside. 

Place 500ml whipping cream into a bowl and whisk until soft peaks. Keep in the fridge until needed.

To make the Anglaise, pour 325ml whole milk in a pan. Since this mousse is orange infused, zest 3 large oranges into the milk and bring to a gentle simmer. In a small bowl, weigh 20g yolks (approximately 1 egg yolk) and add 50g sugar. Mix by hand and pour the hot milk onto the yolks. Pour back into the pan and while on a low heat, whisk constantly while it heats. To make the perfect anglaise, the liquid must reach 83 degrees. This can be done by eye by using the ‘wooden spoon trick’. Dip the back of a wooden spoon with the anglaise and run your finger across it. If the line is still visible without the liquid dripping down, it is ready. Make sure not to overcook the anglaise- it will look like scrambled eggs! Once the anglaise is ready, take it off the heat and add the soaked gelatine. 

Now to make a ganache with the chocolate and anglaise. Pour one third of the anglaise into the chocolate and mix thoroughly using a rubber spatula. At this stage it is normal for it to look like the mix has split, there is not enough fat for the chocolate to be smooth. Continue by adding another third and mix until fully incorporated. After adding the remaining anglaise, the ganache will look silky smooth. At this stage, add 50ml Disaronno Liqueur and mix. Set aside for approximately 15 minutes to cool slightly. 

The final stage to this mousse is to mix the semi-whipped cream and ganache. Pour one third of the ganache into the semi-whipped cream and fold without knocking any air. Continue to add another third until all the ganache is mixed with the cream. 

The mousse is now ready, so simply pour into a bowl, cup, mug, martini glass or cake mould. Place in the fridge for one hour and it is ready to serve. For this particular recipe, make sure to line the sides of cake tin with acetate, with the Dacquoise on the base, before pouring in the mousse. Set in the freezer overnight. (Freezing the mousse at this stage makes it easier to maintain a beautiful shape.)

How to make Amaretti Cookies.

Amaretti cookies are very similar to macaron shells, but the ratio of the ingredients are slightly different, resulting in a firmer batter. 

Firstly make the French meringue. Separate 4 eggs and place the whites in a clean bowl. (Keep the yolks- they are used to make the chocolate mousse.) Start whisking the whites for a few seconds before slowly adding 340g caster sugar. Allow the whites to whip until soft peaks form, as seen in the picture.

Add 340g ground almonds, and fold into the meringue using a spatula making sure not to beat the air out of the meringue. Once all combined, add 20ml Disaronno liqueur and 10ml Almond Extract. 

Place in a piping bag with a 0.7cm nozzle and pipe onto a greaseproof paper. 

Place in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the amaretti. The cookies should have a light golden finish.

Green Tea Biscuits with White Chocolate.
Following from the Christmas post- here is the recipe for the Green Tea Biscuits! I made these for my colleagues at work to wish them all a Merry Christmas, and it certainly went down a treat! Edible gifts are always appreciated :) The recipe and decoration tips below, enjoy!