May 6, 2017

May The Fourth Be With You

Star Wars Day (May the 4th) was this week so it's the perfect time to post these BB8 cookies.

But really, you don't need an excuse to make them - look how adorable they are!



I used this sugar cookie recipe, royal icing and M&Ms.  BB8 is a really easy character to make as you only need circular cookie cutters.



I hope that everyone had a great Star Wars Day!



April 1, 2017

Hershey's Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies


One of my lovely friends gifted me with some Hershey's Kisses - I used them to bake some fluffy peanut butter cookies!



Recipe heavily adapted from: How Sweet It Is
Ingredients
125g butter
35g peanut butter
200g white sugar
40g brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
280g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Hershey's Kisses or choc chips (optional)

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 175C (350F).

2. Beat the butter, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Beat the egg and vanilla essence into the mixture.

4. Mix in the flour and baking powder until just combined.

5. Scoop heaped tablespoons of cookie dough onto a baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicon mat, leaving a bit of space between the dough balls.

6. Top each ball with a Hershey's Kiss or a chocolate chip.  Of course, you can also make these without the chocolate kisses!



7. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.  You want the middle to still be soft!

8. Allow the cookies to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Cookies sans kisses
Enjoy!

March 24, 2017

Speculoos Buns


These buns are delightfully soft and chock full of delicious speculoos spread.

Recipe adapted from: The Imaginariyum
Ingredients
125mL buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp dry instant yeast
3 tbsp white sugar
1 egg
250g flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter (room temperature)
1 cup speculoos spread (a.k.a. speculaas, cookie butter)
Optional - about 1/4 cup chopped apple

Method
1. Heat the buttermilk until lukewarm, then mix the yeast in and leave to activate.  It should start to froth up.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the buttermilk and yeast mixture with the sugar, egg, flour and salt.  Mix until combined.

3. Add the butter and mix until it's been incorporated.  Continue to knead the dough with the mixer on low speed for about 10 minutes.  The dough will be a bit sticky. 

4. Place the dough inside a bowl greased with butter.  Cover it with a tea towel or cling wrap and let it rise for about 1.5 hours, or until doubled in size.

5. After the dough has risen, lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, so that the dough is quite thin.

6. Spread the speculoos across the dough.  If desired, you can sprinkle other fillings such as chopped apple or nuts on top.



7. Roll the dough up, starting with the short edge.  Pinch the seam closed and cut the log into about 12 even slices.

8. There are a few options for baking these buns - you can arrange them in a brownie pan for a more rustic approach, or butter a muffin tin and place each roll into a separate cup (this will give you lovely round buns!)



9. Cover the buns with a tea towel or cling wrap and let them rise for another 30 minutes.

10. Preheat your oven to 175C (350F).  When the buns have risen, bake them for about 15-20 minutes.

11. Let the buns cool.  If you've baked them in a muffin tin, after they've cooled for 10 minutes, remove the buns from the tin by loosening the edges with a table knife, then place them on a wire rack to cool further.

These are great when warm from the oven!  If you have leftovers the next day, heating them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds will rejuvenate them and bring back that just-baked feeling.



Enjoy!

February 28, 2017

Macarons


While macarons are beautiful and rather impressive, they're definitely not the easiest things to make - but when they do work, it's an incredible feeling!

This is my tried and true recipe, with all my tips for macaron success (after a lot of trial and error!)  I hope that this helps with your macaron endeavours.

Do note that macarons' behaviour can differ depending on the climate that you live in, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you.  I encourage you to keep experimenting!

Recipe adapted from: David Lebovitz
Ingredients
180g icing sugar

75g almond meal
3 egg whites from large eggs
97g white sugar

Method
1. Using a food processor, process the icing sugar and almond meal until combined and smooth.  This step helps to break down the almond meal into smaller particles, which will result in a smoother macaron batter.
You can also use hazelnut meal, which provides a lovely flavour, however I find that my macarons don't usually work how I want them to when I use hazelnuts.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they form soft peaks.  (Top tip - I often use spare egg yolks to whip up some lemon curd!)

3. Add the white sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating in between additions.  Continue to beat until firm peaks form. 

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in two batches.  (If you are using food colouring to colour your macarons, now is the time to add it!)  Ensure that all ingredients are combined, but do not overmix.

You don't need to be too gentle - the 'macaronnage' technique calls for the mixture to be smeared across the site of the bowl a bit with the spatula to decrease aeration.  The macaron batter should be smooth with no streaks of egg whites.

5. Line baking trays with baking paper.  I usually use a silicon mat and top it with baking paper to ensure that no oils from the silicon come in contact with the macarons.

6. Pipe the batter into small circles with a small round piping tip.  I usually make my macarons around 4-5cm in diameter.  Make sure to leave some space between macarons as they can spread.  Rap the baking tray on your table a few times to flatten the macarons and remove any large air bubbles.

7. Preheat your oven to 185C (365F).  While the oven's heating up, set the macarons aside to set a little - a skin will form on the top which will help your macaron to form a 'foot' when baked.

8. Bake the macarons for 10-15 minutes.  I bake my macarons on the fan setting for around 5 minutes (the foot should form during this time), then turn the fan setting off and lower the temperature to 150C (300F).

If your oven element is on the bottom of the oven, don't put your macarons on the bottom rack as it will be too hot for them and they may crack.  You can also put an empty baking tray on the bottom rack to help block the heat a bit.

9. Let the macarons rest on the tray until cool.  They can be sticky if you try to pull them off the baking paper while hot.

10. Sandwich your macarons with your desired filling - I usually use buttercream or dark chocolate ganache.  You can also make a dam of ganache or buttercream and put jam, caramel or another softer filling in the middle.



A dam of dark chocolate ganache surrounds salted caramel in these macarons!





February 14, 2017

Nutella Raspberry Rugelach


Rugelach is a Jewish pastry that can be filled with a variety of ingredients such as fruits, nuts or chocolate.  I'd never had rugelach before these but was drawn to the recipe because the filling is Nutella.  I am happy to say that these are absolutely delicious!  I could hardly believe I'd made them myself at home; the pastry was beautifully flaky and they were really tasty!

Recipe adapted from: Bakerita
Ingredients
113g butter
113g cream cheese
145g flour
1 1/2  tsp white sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup raspberry jam (optional)
Milk and white sugar (to brush on top of the pastries)

Method
1. Combine the butter, cream cheese, flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer).  Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.

2. Press the dough into a rectangular lump.  Wrap it in cling wrap and let it chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

3. When you're ready to bake the rugelach, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).

4. Cut the dough into 2 portions and, on a floured surface, roll them out into a large rectangle.

5. Spread the dough with the Nutella, then top with the raspberry jam.  (Alternatively, you can just use Nutella!)



6. Roll the dough up, starting from the long side of the rectangle to make two long logs.

7. Put the logs into the freezer for around 15 minutes to make them easier to cut up.

8. When the logs are chilled, brush them with some milk and sprinkle with some white sugar.  Cut the logs into equal pieces about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide.  Place the slices upright on a baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicon mat.



9. Bake the rugelach for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden.

10. Allow the rugelach to cool on wire racks.



Enjoy!

February 5, 2017

Tahini Choc Chip Cookies


These are absolutely fantastic - they're the classic choc chip cookies we know and love, with an undertone of sesame provided by the addition of tahini in the batter.  They also have a great texture - chewy at the edges with a soft centre.

Recipe adapted from: My Name Is Yeh
Ingredients
125g butter
240g white sugar
110g tahini
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
155g flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup choc chips (I used dark chocolate chips)

Method
1. Cream the butter, tahini and sugar together until light and fluffy.  I use my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

2. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla; beat together until combined.

3. Add the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt to the batter, mix gently until just combined.

4. Stir through the chocolate chips.

5. Line a baking tray that will fit in your freezer with baking paper or a silicon mat.  Scoop out balls of dough; I make mine a bit bigger than tablespoon size.  If you make your cookies larger or smaller, remember that you'll need to adjust the baking time!

6. Place the tray of cookie dough balls into the freezer and let them rest there for 12 hours/overnight.  This really helps the cookies develop a lovely texture.



7. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 160C (325F).

8. Place the cookie dough on baking trays lined with baking paper/silicon mats, leaving space between the cookies as they will spread!  You can bake as many or as few cookies as you like - store extra cookies in a seal-able storage bag in the fridge and bake them when you want them!

9. Bake the cookies for 11 minutes; the edges should be lightly golden but they should still be soft.  (Remember you'll need to bake them for a longer time if your cookies are larger.)



10. Let the cookies cool on the trays for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



Enjoy!